It’s been a trying time for Tampa Bay Lightning prospect defenseman Slater Koekkoek since being drafted in the first-round in 2012.
Each of the past three seasons for him have ended with shoulder injuries and while he had high hopes pinned on him when he was selected 10th overall, he just wants to be healthy as Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times shares.
“I’ve gotten the same questions for how long now? But maybe I got them fixed up now then I’ll be good for the next 20 years,” Koekkoek said. “It’s something I had to deal with, it’s not my fault or anything, just had a bad break. And I’m just going to move forward.”
Koekkoek, 20, saw his last season with the Windsor Spitfires come to an abrupt end after injuring his shoulder in a fight. Before that, he was having a monster season as he scored 15 goals with 53 points in 62 games. In his past three seasons he’s played a total of 130 games.
With the way the Lightning have built up their blue line this offseason adding Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison, it’s a bit of a crowded house in Tampa. For now, Koekkoek will look to get his game going in the American Hockey League with Syracuse.
All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.
Slater Koekkoek (Defense)
Height: 6′ 2″ Weight: 184 Shoots: Left
Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 23 skater in North America
What kind of player is he?
In a draft loaded with defensemen, Koekkoek has the most unforgettable name (pronounced “kook-kook”) and perhaps the most questions about his game. A shoulder injury cut his 2011-12 season short (just 26 games), yet he still managed to post 5G-13A-18PTS for the Petes, a testament to his offensive skill set.
Mark Seidel, chief scout for the North American Central Scouting, calls Koekkoek “physical and smart.” He’s a smooth skater that carries the puck well enough to lead rushes up the ice, but won’t leave his team hanging at the other end.
“He must be more productive in 5-on-5 situations and not rely solely on the powerplay. He possesses the potential size at 6’2” and 185 lbs and has yet to fully fill out his frame. The skating ability is there as well and everything points that he could develop into a second but most likely a third pairing defenseman at the NHL level.” – Shane Malloy, amateur scout and author of “The Art Of Scouting”
More draft profiles:
Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves