Everyone was surprised when Tampa Bay Lightning used their 10th overall draft pick to swoop in for defenseman Slater Koekkoek on Friday. A large number of analysts and fans raised their eyebrows in response to the decision by Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, the director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr believes Tampa Bay Lightning’s decision to bring in Slater Koekkoek is quite reasonable.
Dan Marr explained that Slater Koekkoek was considered among the top-20 prospects of NHL. Dan Marr pointed out that a torn rotator cuff in Slater Koekkoek’s left shoulder sidelined the youngster for five months.
Dan Marr reckons that if Slater Koekkoek’s five-month absence from NHL had not occurred he would have made it to the top-ten without much of a shock. Presently, Slater Koekkoek is ranked No. 23 in North American skaters.
“He would have been a top-10 candidate,” Dan Marr said in an interview to the Tampa Bay Times. “We knew that his game had taken off in the right direction.”
Dan Marr’s evaluation will provide solace to those fans who rated Slater Koekkoek as one of the best draft picks this year a couple of months ago.
“His core strength, he may be one of the better players in the draft,” Dan Marr said. “He's very strong, but he's one of those effortless, fluid skaters. He's got a game. He can lead a rush, but the best part of his game is getting the puck out of the (defensive) zone. He'll make that good first pass.”
Moreover, Slater Koekkoek shoulder injury doesn’t seem to be a big deal at all. The medical director of Tampa Lightning Bay, Ira Guttentag tested the 18-year-old and came up with good reviews. Tampa Bay Lightning’s general manager Steve Yzerman has witnessed Slater Koekkoek at the team’s workout sessions and is impressed with the youngster’s performance.
“He tested extremely well,” Steve Yzerman said. “He's a gifted athlete. He's in good shape.”
Slater Koekkoek reckons his shoulder injury was another learning curve in his career. Slater Koekkoek optimistically said that he had now learnt to deal with a “pretty substantial injury”.
“I used the combine to show that my shoulder was really good, and from there just wanted to put it in the back of my memory,” Slater Koekkoek said. “It was a good learning experience.
“I learned to deal with a pretty substantial injury. I learned how to work hard to get what I want. It was obviously a big adversity thing. To get back to where I was huge.”