Five Lightning prospects competing for Memorial Cup
The Lightning brass will get their money's worth in Windsor, Ontario this weekend, with five prospects competing in the Canadian Hockey League's Memorial Cup, which begins today.
"A pretty good stop," says Stacy Roest, the Lightning's director of player development.
Three prospects play for Erie - forwards Taylor Raddysh, Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Erik Cernak. (Check out this feature on Cirelli). Two more play for Saint Johns's (QMJHL), with Mathieu Joseph and Boko Imama.
Raddysh, a second-round pick in 2016, recently signed a three-year, entry-level deal. The 6-foot-2, 209 pound wing racked up 109 points in 58 games this season for Erie, including 42 oals.
"He's big, he's strong he skates," Roest said. "He's really good with the puck, seeing the ice. He's so smart, and on the power play he's really got a good shot. Offensively, he's very strong, in puck possession games, he's a skilled player."
Raddysh's brother, Darren, a defenseman, also plays for Erie, and you wonder if Tampa Bay might have interest in the pending unrestricted free agent. "He moves the puck well, the top scoring CHL defenseman. He's a couple year older Taylor, on defense."
Cirelli is Captain Clutch, a 6-1 center who scored another big goal Saturday, the overtime winner for the Otters. He was playoff MVP for Oshawa two years ago, the 2015 third-round pick having a flair for the dramatic.
"He plays the game the right way," Roest said. "He does all the little things right. He competes really well, he's very smart. Those (clutch goals) are a reward for playing the right way."
Cernak, a 6-3, 221-pound defenseman, was acquired from L.A. in the Ben Bishop trade in late February. Some, including TSN analyst Craig Button, believe he can grow into a top-four defenseman. He had 21 points (three goals) for Erie.
"He's big strong, skates well," Roest said. "He plays simple, moves the puck. He's been a big part of their team so far. He doesn't get much power play time, but he's the first over the board on PK, and usually plays against the other team's top lines. He's a big boy, thick, strong, plays pretty physical. A good package."
Joseph is coming off his second straight 30-goal season for the Sea Dogs, a career-high 34 goals, 44 assists. Like Joseph, Imama was part of Cirell'is 2015 draft class. Imama had a breakout offensive season, with 41 goals in 66 games, while still bringing his physical presence (105 penalty minutes).
"They're all playing big roles on their teams," Roest said. "They all play hard, play the right way. It's good to see them playing these playoff games, being in the final of their league."