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Lightning prospects

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


An alphabetical order listing of the top 10 prospects in this week's draft as rated by Tampa Bay:

DAN BLACKBURN, Kootenay (WHL), 6-0, 180, G

Plays a semi-butterfly style and recovers quickly after scrambles. A good glove. Knows how to control rebounds. There are questions about his puck-handling. NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 North American goaltender.

* * *

STANISLAV CHISTOV, Avangard Omsk (Russia), 5-10, 167, RW

The great debate pits Chistov's remarkable skills (he has been compared with Paul Kariya) against his lack of size. Lightning general manager Rick Dudley, who admitted the Lightning has enough smaller players, said Chistov's "vision and magic hands," not to mention his scoring touch, passing ability and speed, could rule the day. "He's a dynamic little bugger, who can be an offensive juggernaut," Dudley said. Central Scouting: No. 3 European.

* * *

MIKKO KOIVU, TPS-Turku (Finland), 6-2, 183, C

The brother of Canadiens captain Saku Koivu. A finesse player, whose great hands and vision make him an exceptional passer and playmaker. A good, but not great skater. Also needs to improve both his slap and wrist shots. Central Scouting: No. 4 European.

* * *

MIKE KOMISAREK, University of Michigan, 6-4, 235, D

In some ways, exactly what the Lightning needs, a menacing force along the blue line and around the crease. Doesn't worry too much about offense. Improved skater. Dudley called him "a very appealing guy." Central Scouting: No. 4 North American.

* * *

ILJA KOVALCHUK, Spartak (Russia), 6-2, 207, RW

Considered by most to be the No. 1 overall prospect. Dudley called him "a dynamic combination of speed, skill and grit with a big shot." The only question for Dudley was Kovalchuk's character. "I think he's a kid who's been a star everywhere he's gone, so he's a little bit of a hot dog," Dudley said. "But that doesn't make him a bad kid." Central Scouting: No. 1 European.

* * *

PASCAL LECLAIRE, Halifax (QMJHL), 6-1, 185, G

Uses blocker and stick to move shots into corners. Has a very fast glove, plays angles well and challenges shooters. Needs work on puck-handling and must cut down on kick-save rebounds. Central Scouting: No. 1 North American goaltender.

* * *

ALEXANDER POLUSHIN, Tver (Russia), 6-3, 198, F

The Red Line Report ranks him 55th overall and criticizes his hands. But Dudley said, "He's big, he's fast and, unlike the Red Line Report, he doesn't have bad hands. We think he's one of the best combinations of size and speed in the draft." Central Scouting: No. 8 European.

* * *

JASON SPEZZA, Windsor (OHL), 6-2, 214, C

Stock dropped after a subpar playoff, but Dudley doesn't buy it. "He has magical puck skills," he said. A powerful skater with exceptional balance, Central Scouting calls him "a potential franchise player." Dudley said if Spezza drops to No. 3, where the Lightning picks, he will consider taking him, but it's not "automatic." Central Scouting: No. 1 North American.

* * *

ALEXANDER SVITOV, Avangard Omsk (Russia), 6-3, 198, C

Tampa Bay's most likely choice with the No. 3 overall pick. Said Dudley: "He's probably more complete than any player in the top group." A strong puck-handler and a fine passer. Good on faceoffs. Plays with a mean streak. Think New Jersey's Bobby Holik. Central Scouting: No. 2 European.

* * *

STEPHEN WEISS, Plymouth (OHL), 5-11, 178, C

Size is the biggest problem, and he is not considered fast, though Dudley said he has a quick first step. His stock surged when he reportedly outplayed Spezza in the playoffs. Does the little things like back-checking and winning faceoffs. Central Scouting: No. 3 North American.

-- Compiled by Damian Cristodero.

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