With the conclusion of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s development camp and 3v3 tournament, there were several standouts with bright looking futures ahead. I will focus on two defensemen that are under contract already. They will play for the Syracuse Crunch this season. Could either of these players play in the NHL?
RD Roman Schmidt
Roman Schmidt should be the youngest person to suit up for the Syracuse Crunch this season. He was drafted by the Lightning in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2021 from the USHL and signed his entry level contract soon thereafter. Schmidt played for the United States on the National and World Junior Cup U17 and U18 teams. On these teams he posted solid numbers. Last season he jumped into the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers recording 33 points in 68 games and four points in 12 playoff games.
In the 3v3 tournament, Schmidt caught my eye several times. Admittedly, during the first game of the final day of camp, I got caught by my father when I said, “Schmidt sucks!”. He had just missed the net for the third time in a row in just a few shifts, all from places he should have hit it. I think he managed to shoot on net once later throughout the day. Why would I write that you ask? It’s important to note these things to get an idea of what kind of player he is and what could improve. Schmidt proved me wrong just a few shifts later and throughout the rest of the tournament when he displayed what I would call elite passing to set up plays that were well defended just moments before. I mean he wowed me with a few offensive passes from all over the ice. That mixed with his big size and strong defensive play gives me the idea that he is a puck moving physical two-way defenseman.
Even if he can play for the Syracuse Crunch to start the season, he shouldn’t. Since my last article, Tampa signed a depth defender in Trevor Carrick. I know you’re wondering “how many guys does that make for the Crunch defense?” Sean Day, Darren Raddysh, Nick Perbix, Declan Carlile, Jack Thompson, Dmitri Semykin, and now Trevor Carrick combines for a total of seven. Semykin has mostly played for the Orlando Solar Bears, I will concede. So, he’s not a lock to stay with Syracuse all season. He likely gets a chance to at least. Schmidt should get another year with Kitchener to really light it up. I expect 50-55 points there and then joining the Crunch at the end of the season. There is virtually no chance that he will play for the Bolts this season, but he should get there in a few seasons.
RD Jack Thompson
Jack Thompson will get his first full year with Syracuse just like Perbix and Carlile. Due to covid, he did get to play one game for the Crunch registering a point and a plus two rating back in the 2020-21 season. Before that he was drafted by the Lightning in the third round of the 2020 entry draft. It didn’t take long for him to receive and sign his entry level contract. That contract has slid to this upcoming season because he was still playing in the OHL. The same would happen to Roman Schmidt’s contract if he returns to his OHL team this season.
Thomson is an offensive defenseman. He plays on the power play. I’m not sure if he will get to be on a power play unit or not. I think not. With Day leading the Crunch defenders in points last season he will take the first power play unit I am certain. Raddysh or Carrick could take the other spot just due to experience. Thompson flirted with a point per game last season in the regular season and surpassed that during the playoffs for the first time with the Soo Greyhounds. The Greyhounds acquired him in a trade that saw the captain leave his Sudbury Wolves. The Wolves did not qualify for the playoffs and the last season they played in the playoffs were cancelled. A real shame.
The former Sudbury Wolves captain plays for the Crunch this year full time. With the veterans and older players likely ahead of him, he won’t see time outside the preseason with Tampa. At just 20 years old, he has time to develop in the AHL. I suspect he will be a contender for an NHL roster spot in two years. This season though, he should hold down a spot on the bottom pairing now likely to be paired mostly with Declan Carlile. I don’t expect huge numbers just yet. Maybe 15-20 points if he plays the full season.
Three Defense Stars of the 3v3 Tournament
Honorable mentions: Eamon Powell, Jack Thompson
Third star: Nick Perbix
Second star: Declan Carlile
First star: Roman Schmidt
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