Two of Tampa Bay’s brightest young talents were on display during this weekend’s prospects tournament in Coral Springs, Fl., and they pair didn’t disappoint.
Jonathan Drouin — the third overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — and ’11 second-rounder Nikita Kucherov were a force to be reckoned with as Tampa Bay finished the tourney with a 2-0-1 record.
“Drouin and Kucherov were kind of magical out there a few times,” Bolts head coach Rob Zettler — normally the coach with AHL Syracuse — told the team website. “Some really nice chances and an unbelievable goal.”
Kucherov, 20, finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 4G-3A in three games.
Drouin, 18, only played in two of the three games but assisted on the game-winning goal in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Florida.
It’ll be interesting to see how the two fare in training camp and the exhibition season.
Drouin is an elite-level talent expected to at least get a nine-game look with the Bolts to start the season.
Kucherov has experience playing against pros, having appeared in 18 games for KHL club CSKA Moscow during the 2011-12 season. He also tore apart the QMJHL last season, scoring 63 points in 33 games.
The problem for both, though, is size — Drouin is 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds; Kucherov is 6-foot and 165 pounds.
It might be asking a lot for both to come in and play at the NHL level given their current frames and, what’s more, the Bolts do have other quality youngsters looking to make the leap, including Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Tanner Richard and Vladislav Namestnikov.