Other than Adam Wilcox, the Lightning have four drafted players in college, after Kirill Gotovets was traded to Chicago, and each is on a different step of the ladder toward pro hockey.
Matthew Peca led his Quinnipiac team all the way to the NCAA Championship game in his sophomore season, scoring three goals in the quarterfinal victory over Union. The 5-8, 155-pound center finished with 15 goals and 15 assists in 39 games, playing in all situations.
“He was extraordinary at the end of the year,” said Tom Kurvers, the Lightning’s special advisor to the general manager. “He’s made great progress, even if you measure it just by the summer camps.
“He plays a power kind of game. He’s not very tall, but he’s got a wide base. He’s strong and he’s courageous. The smaller guy has got to be able to play heavy and he’s got that look to him.”
Brendan O’Donnell will begin his third season at North Dakota, looking to make a bigger impact. O’Donnell, a 6-1, 200-pound left wing, struggled with injuries his freshman year and had two goals and eight assists in 2012-13 while playing 29 games.
“It hasn’t gone extremely well for him for two years, but part of the value of a guy in college is he gets extra time after age 20,” Kurvers said. “He has two more years and he ended last season on the top line. That’s a good sign. We think he’s in good hands there.”
Jimmy Mullin, a 5-11, 157-pound speedy forward, stands in the same spot as O’Donnell while entering his junior season at Miami of Ohio. Mullin had 14 points this season after producing 26 in his freshman year.
“He has to make the next step to be a good, solid, productive college player,” Kurvers said. “He expects more and we want him to be better. He’s a good young man.
“What we liked about him when we drafted him and what we like about him today is he is a rink rat,” Kurvers said. “The kid loves the game, loves to score a goal in a drill and competes hard.”
Brian Hart, a bruising 6-2, 214-pound left wing, finished his first season at Harvard with five goals and 13 assists in 30 games. He was part of the winning team during the 3-on-3 tournament at his second Lightning Development Camp last week.
“We need more big guys,” Kurvers said. “We have a lot of good hockey players that are small and you’ve got to have a blend. He’s got skill and he’s a talented athlete as well.
“We’ll be patient and look for progress. We had a good return on Alex Killorn in the same program and we’re looking for that to happen again with [Hart].”
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