Lightning Round: Summer checklist - sign Cam MacDonald (or not)

The future of a prospect is in the air.

Lightning Round: Summer checklist - sign Cam MacDonald (or not)
Photo by Mike Cox / Unsplash

While there is still hockey being played, the deadlines for next season's roster construction are starting to close in. One of those quiet little dates that is easy to miss is June 1st. That is the first date that junior players who aren't offered a contract by the team that drafted them can become a free agent or reenter the draft.

There are specific rules that govern when exactly a player needs to receive a contract and they are spelled out here. For the Tampa Bay Lightning there is one player that they need to offer a contract to by June 1st of this year - Cameron MacDonald.

The 20-year-old from Nova Scotia was drafted in the 5th round of the 2021 draft. He has spent the past three seasons in the QMJHL playing mostly for the Saint John Sea Dogs where he put up 41 goals and 39 assists in 124 games. He also won Memorial Cup with the Sea Dogs in 2022. He had a goal and two assists in the championship game and earned the third star of the game.

After playing 27 games with Saint John last season he was traded to Gatineau for a first and second round pick in the 2024 QMJHL entry draft. He would go on to put up 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 31 games for the Olympiques. MacDonald added another 5 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs as Gatineau was eliminated in the semifinal round by the eventual champions - Quebec.

At 6'2" and 190 pounds, MacDonald has decent size and puckhandling skills. His shot is decent, however, it seems he wasn't able to elevate his game to the next level during his junior career. The Athletic's Scott Wheeler had him as the Lightning's 15th best prospect back in January mentioning:

"But when pushing into his spots became a little more difficult against better competition in the QMJHL, flaws in his soft skill, playmaking, and processing began to reveal themselves"

Did he do enough to earn a contract from the Lightning at some point over the next couple of weeks? Or, is he already looking to move on to different pastures. There should be plenty of opportunity for him in Syracuse next season considering the roster spots that should be open in the fall.

He could also be another one, in the mold of Sammy Walker and Cole Guttman, who gets away. The main difference between MacDonald and those two are that they were able to make the leap from college to the NHL in under a season. It's unlikely, based on his prior performance, that he would skyrocket through any system that quickly. MacDonald is probably going to need a season or two at the AHL level to show that he can make it in the pros. Syracuse could be the perfect spot for him.

We'll keep an eye on the situation and update with news when it happens.

As a side note, the Lightning are also poised to lose exclusive rights to Dominik Masin, a 2014 second round pick who has turned 27-years-old. The Czech defenseman spent parts of 5 seasons with the Crunch before heading to the KHL following the COVID pause. He spent last season with Ilves in the Liga where he put up 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 36 games.

Lightning / NHL News

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