On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced an entry-level deal for Slater Koekkoek, the club’s first-round selection (10th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Koekkoek, 19, was one of the highly-touted prospects from the ridiculously deep defenseman class — he was the 10th overall pick at the draft, but the eighth blueliner off the board, going behind the likes of Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Mathew Dumba, Derrick Pouliot and Jacob Trouba.
Koekkoek split this season between OHL Peterborough and Windsor, finishing with 6G-22A-28PTS in 42 games played.
“He’s got tremendous skating to go with real good size and a terrific competitive streak,” Lightning director of amateur scouting, Al Murray, told NHL.com. “He’s more skilled than people give him credit for.”
The big question facing Koekkoek moving forward is his health.
His 2011-12 season was cut short (26 games) due to a shoulder injury and this year, his campaign was again ended abruptly when he was forced to go under the knife for the same shoulder.
“The first procedure he had, it failed,” Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said back in January. “So he needs to have it redone.”
The surgery has ruled out Koekkoek for the season, meaning he won’t be able to join the Lightning or their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.