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Lucas Edmonds: Tampa Bays Next Hidden Gem

Peter Harling polished off his draft coverage with this gem:

Lucas Edmonds was passed over in the NHL Entry Draft three times before hearing his name called. It took a little longer than he had hoped, but he made it to the Draft a lot quicker than Martin St. Louis!

The 2022 NHL Draft was a wild and unpredictable draft and there were plenty of memorable moments. Juraj Slafkovsky going first overall, Shane Wright falling to fourth, and the Isaac Howard fashion show. Montreal Canadiens Head Coach Martin St. Louis received thunderous applause from the host city fan base. When the cheering finally subsided, he quipped “I finally made it to an NHL Draft.”

Plenty of players, for several reasons, fail to be drafted or are passed over once or twice, or even three times before finally being drafted and eventually making it to the NHL.

21-year-old Lucas Edmonds is a Canadian and Swedish dual citizen. Born in North Bay Ontario he played his minor hockey in Canada until he moved to Sweden to play for five seasons. His play and development in Sweden had some ups and downs, then the pandemic struck and after two NHL Drafts, he was still unclaimed. Coming back to North America to play as a over-age rookie in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs, the plan was to have a breakout season and try to get on some scout’s draft radars.

Playing on the same team as the projected number one overall prospect Shane Wright in Kingston helped as there was never a shortage of scouts watching the Frontenacs play. While that fact certainly helped, Lucas helped himself with his standout play.

Edmonds did have that breakout season he was hoping for by torching the OHL to the tune of 34 goals, 79 assists and 113 points. He led the OHL in assists and was the leagues top scoring right winger and finished third overall in soring. When asked what he attributed to his outbreak, Edmonds had this to say; “It was a combination of things. I think the OHL is more my style of play. I like to be really offensive, and I had lots of really good teammates who were able to help me along the way.”

The decision to come to the OHL paid off but was not an easy one. When asked why he choose the OHL, Edmonds said “Kingston always had dialogue from my time in Sweden, I think when I talked to them last year, they were very convincing saying I would have a big role to play in my game. And it was a once in a lifetime chance to play with a player like Shane Wright, so that definitely factored into the decision as well.”

Living in Kingston I was able to watch a lot of Edmonds play this season. To be honest, I knew nothing about him before this season, so I had no biases about the player. Immediately his skill jumped out at me. His puck handling abilities are well above average at the OHL level. Edmonds played the wing on a line with fellow overage player Jordan Frasca (who was signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Penguins) and Francesco Arcuri (A Dallas Stars Draft pick). His ability to shoot the puck was impressive. He owns a precision accuracy shot, and has a deceptive and quick release that catches goalies off guard. And it has some power behind it. His skating was not as overwhelming, but it never seemed to be a hindrance. Edmonds is also undersized at 5-11 and 185 pounds, but he is deceptively strong. Perhaps not surprising as an over-age player playing against players as young as 16, but his ability to control the puck with one hand, keep his head up and fight off checkers was constantly on display. I asked Shane Wright for his scouting report on Edmonds.

“Eddy he’s super skilled, super smart with the puck. He is so talented at making plays in tight and he can shoot the puck!”

So now that he is finally drafted, what is next for Luas Edmonds in his career?

“Being an older player, my goal is to start in the AHL and work up from there. Obviously, the NHL and the AHL are two really good leagues. I still have lots of work, even at my age, there are lots of things I would like to improve. Hopefully, the team thinks I am good enough to take a spot in the AHL next season and work my way up from there.”

Making the AHL would be an achievement, but his sights are set on playing in the NHL and he knows what he must do to get there.

“I think the biggest thing I need to work on is to get stronger like anybody else. It’s lots of big boys in the league like Victor Hedman, so to get stronger to play against guys like that, and to get faster to keep up with them as well. Those are the main things, but I want to improve everything”

When asked what his most translatable skill to the NHL is right now, Edmonds responded with “I would say my smarts. I feel like I am able to read the game well. I have a mental awareness of where everyone is on the ice. That’s my biggest asset that has allowed me to flourish in the OHL playing with such good players. I give them the puck in good opportunities, and they put the puck in the net”

As he moves into a higher level of play in the AHL and possibly eventually the NHL that skill we continue to serve him well as his teammates will also continue to improve and support his hockey sense.

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded up to draft Edmonds with the 86th selection in the third round of the 2022 NHL entry draft. The organization obviously likes what they see in Edmonds and hopes that he can follow in the footsteps of some of their previous success stories. Tampa has always coveted skills and smarts. They are not shy about drafting or signing older, smaller skilled players and have been rewarded with success stories such as Martin St. Louis, Brayden Point, Janni Gourde, and Tyler Johnson.

Lucas Edmonds will begin his pro career in a few months as he continues to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL. Will he be the next success story to make an impact in the NHL seemingly from nowhere? He could very well do exactly that.

For more information on Lucas Edmonds read my article on DobberProspect – Lucas Edmonds 2022 NHL Draft Journey

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