Boris Katchouk should help make Lightning fans excited for the future

The 44th overall pick in 2016, Katchouk is the kind of prospect that will make a very big impact on the future of the franchise.

When Tampa Bay Lightning fans think about the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft, the name that probably comes to mind in Taylor Raddysh, this year’s breakout star for the Erie Otters. With the success Raddysh had this season, it might be easy to forget the young forward that was selected 14 picks earlier – but it won’t be for long.

The Bolts used the 44th pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Boris Katchouk, a player that spent his season moving up draft boards with very little fanfare. A year later, playing a key role in one of the most prolific offenses in the CHL this season, Katchouk was able to take a nice step in his development this season – and has no doubt made the Lighting front office glad he’s one of their own.

Boris Katchouk is not your typical prospect. The child of Russian immigrants, he was born in Vancouver, raised in Southern Ontario and is now in The Soo where he is developing his hockey skills in one of the most traditional hockey atmospheres in the world.

Though he was born and raised in Canada, Katchouk is very proud of his Russian heritage - something that is evident from his Twitter handle (@RussianRocket13). He credits his mother for getting him to where he is today. Elena Toumanova represented the USSR in long-track speed skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and Boris has spoken about how much of an influence she has had on him. Watching her raise three boys on her own in a foreign country has shown Katchouk what real strength and perseverance is.

Growing up playing hockey in the Waterloo Minor Hockey Association, Katchouk was selected 33rd overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection draft by Sault Ste. Marie. He was eased into the lineup slowly – only playing 12 games in his first OHL season – but has since become a key member of a very good Greyhounds hockey team.

So what do the Tampa Bay Lightning have in Boris Katchouk? For that, I went straight to the source and spoke with Vic Carneiro, Director of Player Personnel for the Soo Greyhounds.

Raw Charge: What kind of player should Lightning fans expect in Boris?

Carneiro: Lightning fans should expect a versatile, competitive player who has the necessary skill to create for himself and compliment other skilled players.

Raw Charge: What part of his game was most improved this past season?

Carneiro: His overall consistency, being a player that is relied upon. That and his discipline.

Raw Charge: How much contact/input does he have from the Lightning front office and development team?

Carneiro: I know Tampa does a good job on tracking their prospects during the course of the season. Main responsibility lies with Stacy Roest, Tampa's Director of Player Development. He gets out to a lot of games, keeping tabs on prospects and provides feedback to the players.

Raw Charge: What are the aspects of his game that will make him a successful professional hockey player?

Carneiro: His competitiveness and his versatility – he works really hard and can play anywhere in the lineup.

Raw Charge: Do you as a team - or him personally - have a specific goals or expectations for Boris for next season?

Carneiro: Nothing specific, just for him to continue to keep getting better.

Off the ice, Katchouk is definitely still a teenager. He has the mentality of an 18-year old kid, which is understandable given that he IS an 18-year old kid. What separates him from others his age is his work ethic and drive to get better. Katchouk is a kid that always wants to get better and is willing to put in the work to get there, something that is a great sign for the Bolts.

The next step is a summer that will likely see a lot of time spent in the weight room. Once his OHL season was finished this spring, Katchouk immediately moved to Syracuse to practice with the Crunch during their playoff run. The time with the AHL team will be huge for a young player that the Lightning organization clearly has high hopes for.

Since he only turns 19 this summer, Katchouk is ineligible to play with the Crunch next season. He’ll be at rookie camp this summer and will definitely get a long look at the main training camp, but there is next to no chance Boris is anywhere but back in the OHL next season. It will be a year dedicated to polishing off his game and showing that he can be one of the best forwards in the league – something similar to what we saw from Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph this season.

Having scored 35 goals in 66 games with the Greyhounds this year, it’s realistic to expect that Katchouk will be looking to crack 40 next season. That, combined with an invitation to Team Canada’s selection camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship, are two things that would point to a successful 2017-18 season for Katchouk.

In the past few years, Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay front office have done a great job of drafting in the middle rounds - particularly when selecting guys from the OHL. Katchouk is a big, strong winger that is going to have the ability to play both top and bottom-6 roles in as a pro. He is likely two years away from making any sort of impact in the NHL but the Lightning have a good one in Katchouk - both on and off the ice.

If you want to learn more about Boris Katchuk, here are some thoughts from the player himself:

Boris Katchouk Career Statistics

2013-2014Waterloo Wolves Minor Midget AAAAHMMPL2925335835
Waterloo Wolves Minor Midget AAAOHL Cup41232
Team ALLIANCEOGC-1650220
2014-2015Team RedU17-Dev32022
Soo ThunderbirdsNOJHL2918274518
Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOHL1202217
Soo ThunderbirdsDudley Hewitt Cup43366
Soo ThunderbirdsRBC Cup40220
2015-2016Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOHL6324275161
Canada U18WJC-1851128
2016-2017Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOHL6635296446
OHL All-StarsJr Super Series11010