Brayden Point emerged as bright spot for Bolts during tough year

Getty
2 Comments

This post is part of Lightning Day on PHT…

The Tampa Bay Lightning went through plenty of adversity last season, but there’s no denying that Brayden Point was one of the bright spots on the roster.

Even though he wasn’t as dominant as Nikita Kucherov or Victor Hedman, the rookie emerged as a dependable player in a season that saw Steven Stamkos play just 17 games.

The fact that a player drafted in the third round was able to contribute in the NHL as a 20-year-old (he only turned 21 in March) is nothing short of remarkable.

Even though he missed 14 games with an upper-body injury, Point still managed to score 18 goals and 40 points in 68 contests. Over 82 games, that works out to 48 points and 22 goals.

“I’m just so impressed that somebody that young and a little bit undersized (listed at 5 feet 10, 166 pounds) can come in,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said in April, per the Tampa Bay Times. “A lot of guys put the team on their back the last few months. But (Point’s) growth has been phenomenal. It’s just a committed kid. There are not enough guys like him, I’ll tell you that.”

Cooper was so impressed with Point, that he brought him to the World Hockey Championship last spring (Cooper was Team Canada’s head coach). During Canada’s silver-medal run, the young Tampa forward registered four goals and one assist in 10 games.

Now that he has another major international tournament (he wore the “C” for Canada at the World Juniors in 2015-16) and a full NHL season under his belt, Point should be able to take a step forward in 2017-18.

Assuming everyone’s healthy (that’s far from guaranteed), Point will likely slot in as the Bolts’ third line center behind Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson. But both those players have dealt with their share of injuries over the last few seasons, so there’s also a decent chance that the team will count on him to play more important minutes at some point.