Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Get Excited For Maxim Cajkovic

The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Maxim Cajkovic, with the 89th overall selection in the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft

 

I had actually selected Cajkovic (pronounced Chi-Ko-Vich, not Catch-Ko-Vich as I initially thought) when I was the Lightning GM in the Puck77 Mock Draft from a little while ago, and I really liked my selection then, so you can probably guess how I feel now. I love this pick, and I genuinely think he could be a steal in the future.

 

Basics

The Bratislava, Slovakia native stands at 5’11, 185 pounds, and played for the St John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

For those that don’t follow the QMJHL, the Sea Dogs finished with a 13-49-2-4 record this season. That is really, really bad. Regardless, the Slovakian right winger scored 22 goals and added 24 more assists for 46 points in 60 games played. While those numbers are unspectacular, he played for a team that finished second-to-last, so you can do the math and expect no one to put up a ton of points.

The best place to look for his production was when he played for the Slovakian U18 team in the World Junior Championships and scored three goals and four assists for seven points in seven games. That’s a point-per-game pace, against other draftees including Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. But let’s breakdown his game, using ProspectShifts.com, where we can watch his film.

 

Scouting Report

I’m sorry, I have to say it: Cajkovic is a better skater than the Lightning’s first round pick, Nolan Foote. He’s quick, able to dart in and out, with fantastic edgework. He can make tight turns and stop on a dime in order to stick with the play wherever it goes. However, he does get knocked off the puck, and often times down to the ice, fairly easy, and needs to work on his balance.

Cajkovic has an outstanding motor, too. He’s constantly moving, trying to get open for a teammate when he doesn’t have the puck. That makes it hard for defenders to keep track of and contain him. He often finds himself getting in the middle of board battles, as he is a feisty player, and isn’t afraid of a good scrum. When he does have a shot, he’s always looking for a spot to unleash his wrist shot. His shot is a bullet, but does lack accuracy at times.

He has great vision too, with very underrated passing ability, but he does force a lot of passes into dense areas, and the puck seemingly never gets from point A to B, and leads to turnovers. He played on the powerplay with St John, working the half-wall and point areas. That’s where he displayed his movements without the puck the most, and showed off his underrated playmaking abilities. On the forecheck is where he displays his feisty game the most. He lays the body whenever he can, playing an uber-aggressive game. But this is a shady area for him.

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He plays with a ton of emotion, which can be a positive, but this emotion does lead to dirty hits and penalties. For example, in one of the games I watched, he was shoved hard to the ice as he turned and sent the puck in deep. He then got up and skated full speed to the corner where the puck went, and boarded the guy that hit him. One of the dirtiest hits I’ve seen, in a dangerous area, at a high speed. He can also be seen getting in the faces of opponents after the whistle. This is an area of his game that he needs to tone down, a lot.

Regardless, his forechecking is exceptional and displays his high motor. He also backchecks hard, showing his full compete level. In the defensive zone, he is very rarely caught puck watching or puck chasing. He knows where to be at all times, showing good defensive awareness. His feet are always moving in the defensive end as well, staying with his man at all times. He is quick to transition up ice as well, but never “cheats” by leaving the zone early.

 

Future Role

Cajkovic plays a very well-rounded, feisty game. I can see him as a potential top-six winger, with power play and penalty kill time, but more than likely a middle-six winger. He already has good skating abilities, that could become great over time. He has good awareness in all three zones, that he could build on to be great. He has good passing, but lacks consistency, which if he fixes, could pair lethally with his already really good shot. Fantastic third round selection, in my opinion.

 

All stats via eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Puck77 Mock Draft Review

The writers here at Puck77, with some outside help, did a three-round National Hockey League mock entry draft. I represented the General Manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 

Due to prior trades, there were only two picks for me to utilize. Those picks were in the first round (27th overall) and third round (89th overall). My two picks were Raphael Lavoie and Maxim Cajkovic. Here’s a deeper look into why I believe these guys could be fits with Tampa. 

 

Raphael Lavoie

 

Who is Lavoie, anyways? Lavoie was ranked 23rd by fellow writers on Puck77 in their last monthly prospect rankings. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Lavoie played mostly center. He put up 32 goals and 41 assists (73 points), in 62 games, as well as 20 goals and 12 assists (32 points) in 23 playoff games.

 

His frame, standing at 6’4, 200 pounds, helps make a relatively small team like Tampa just a little bit bigger. He isn’t a great skater, but he has a stellar shot, and he uses his frame to win battles along the boards, something that the Lightning struggled with in this postseason against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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His playing style was compared to that of Kevin Hayes of the Winnipeg Jets, though if we were to compare him to a current Lightning forward, I’d say he is an Alex Killorn type player. He resonates energy with his strong, physical presence on the ice, while also holding a cannon of a shot.

 

The difference that all Bolts fans are hoping for; Lavoie’s consistency can’t be Killorn-like. Killorn goes through periods of hot streaks, where he’ll score at a point-per-game pace, and then disappear for handfuls of games following those hot streaks. It also seems as though he is on his way out of Tampa shortly, and Lavoie is the perfect player to fill his shoes, and eventually surpass Killorn’s role of a third line grinder, and blossom into a top-six center. But let’s dive a little bit deeper on Lavoie, singling him out on my 2019 Forward Draft Class spider graph.

 

Based on the graph, he has high upside (NHLe Score), according to advanced analytics. He projects to be a top-six center at the NHL level, but leans more towards a first-line talent. His involvement in the play (INV%) is crucial to note when looking at top prospects, because if they’re supposed to be a top-of-the-line guy, they need to get involved in their teams play, and Lavoie does a good job of getting out on the ice and getting involved in the play and helping his team succeed.

 

His even strength per 60 minutes (ESP60) is really good as well, which is encouraging to see. It shows that, at 5v5, he finds success at a high pace. He also shoots a lot, which is good, and he’s also great at putting the puck in the back of the net (Goals For%), though relative to his teammates (GF% Relative), he doesn’t project that high. But, he is still young and as his skating develops, so too will his goal scoring touch.

 

Maxim Cajkovic

 

Cajkovic is a winger playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL, where he put up 22 goals and 24 assists (46 points) in 60 games. He has been ranked 66th by TSN draft analyst Bob McKenzie, but he has also been ranked as early as 47th and as late as 91st in the draft, so it’s quite possible that he does drop to the Lightning’s selection.

 

Standing at 5’11 and 187 pounds, he yet again adds a size factor that Tampa lacks. With Adam Erne potentially gone, as well as even Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson shipping off, wingers have slowly, but surely, become a bit of a necessity, and a shot at a guy like Cajkovic is a solid choice.

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According to EliteProspects.com, he is a very good skater and, like Lavoie, has an excellent shot. He is a few years out, but there’s a chance that he could fill a top-nine role, similar to J.T. Miller, who plays at times with Steven Stamkos on the first line, and down on the third line with Anthony Cirelli.

 

For this spider graph, I wanted a bit more detail on Cajkovic, since Lavoie is already a top guy. To understand a late-round prospect, you need more detail. His upside is similar to that of Lavoie, as he can play on the top-six, but he leans more on the second line tier than first. He also gets involved frequently on his teams’ offense, but that could also be because Saint John was awful, and he was one of the only bright spots on the team. He is well-rounded, in that he plays well on both ends of the ice (OffCat%, DefCat%, which is offensive/defensive effectiveness), and he does shoot a lot (Shot60).

 

But where he struggles is his even strength production. His ESP60 is a bit on the low end, which isn’t great. What is deceiving is his ESPINV% (Even strength point involvement %), because while he’s involved in his team’s production a lot (but his team is also really bad) and it’s not hard to get involved in most of the offense when you’re playing defense the whole game. It’s just good to know that he’s reliable both ways and has a ton of upside. Which, for what was my third-round pick, was not bad at all.

In Conclusion

The chance that Lavoie is available when the 27th overall pick is on the clock is likely, and he’s an intriguing selection. But, as for Cajkovic, not so much. He has a lot going for him, and I look at him as a safe pick after the first-half of the second round passes by. Regardless, if the Lightning do snag him at 89th, I’d consider him a steal.

 

All stats via EliteProspects

Spider Graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by Will Scouch

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Shawinigan Cataractes and Saint John Sea Dogs Battle for a Playoff Berth

QMJHL Report: Shawinigan Cataractes and Saint John Sea Dogs Battle for a Playoff Berth

With the final weekend of the regular season in view, all but one of the playoff spots are taken in the QMJHL. With Acadie-Bathurst having, historically, one of the worst seasons league history, the only two teams vying for an opportunity to take part in the postseason are the Shawinigan Cataractes and the Saint John Sea Dogs. Both teams have really struggled compared to years past, and both teams will fail to reach the 20-win mark. Despite the facts, they have an opportunity to play at least two more home games later this month. As of Thursday, the Cataractes lead the Sea Dogs by one point for 16th in the league.

Shawinigan Can’t Buy a Win

If you said the Cataractes would fall off the top of the mountain to the base following their 2012 Memorial Cup, you would most certainly be right, as Shawinigan gave up the farm to stack their roster when they hosted the tournament seven years ago. Since then, they have been mediocre at best. However, a playoff berth is a playoff berth, and the Cataractes would love to return to the postseason after missing out last year. However, they have not helped their cause with their play in the last month. Shawinigan has lost 13 straight games, and 15 of their last 16 contests. The Cataractes last victory was back on February the 9th, in a rather convincing 5-1 victory over Quebec. Of course, playing both Rouyn-Noranda, Baie-Comeau twice in that time frame certainly did not make it any easier.

They do hold their own fate with two more games remaining. They will first visit Chicoutimi on Friday, before returning home to take on Victoriaville in the season finale. The Cataractes have fared rather well against the Sagueneens, going 2-2-1 so far this season. It won’t be an easy game against Chicoutimi, as they have won five-straight, including a big win over Drummondville on Wednesday. The Tigres are one of many teams that have had the Cataractes number this season, as they have won four of the five meetings this season against Shawinigan.

Two Real Tough Games Ahead for Saint John

Another past Memorial Cup Champion that has struggled in recent memory, the Sea Dogs are trying to get to the playoffs after missing last season. The Sea Dogs missed a big opportunity on Wednesday to jump ahead of Shawinigan, when they led Cape Breton heading into the third period. However, the Eagles stormed back with three goals to hand Saint John their 48th loss of the season. Unlike the Cataractes, though, the Sea Dogs have won a game in the last month. After losing 11 straight, Saint John beat the lowly Titan last Friday.

However, the final two games for Saint John are not going to be easy. First, on Friday they will be tasked with taking on the third-best team in the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads. Halifax has dominated Saint John this season, as they have won all seven meetings by a combined score of 46-9. The contest will take place at the Scotiabank Centre, where the games have been severely lopsided as the Mooseheads have put up 10 or more goals in the three games against the Sea Dogs. On Saturday, the Sea Dogs will play the Moncton Wildcats. While Moncton has fallen of since their hot start, they still sit in the eighth playoff spot. The Sea Dogs have played the Wildcats close throughout the season, winning three of the seven games, but have dropped the last two to the Maritime foe.

Tight playoff races are always fun to watch, especially when anything can happen in the final weekend of the regular season. It will be interesting to see if the Cataractes can finally pick up a win, or if the Sea Dogs can jump Shawinigan for the final spot. Shawinigan does have a decent record Chicoutimi, as does Saint John over Moncton. However, the Sea Dogs/Mooseheads matchup certainly makes it look bleak for Saint John.

Just a shame that whoever clinches will have to play Rouyn-Noranda in the first round…

My pick: Shawinigan clinches, Not because they win, but because the Sea Dogs lose their final two games.

All Statistics and notes found on theqmjhl.ca and eliteprospects.com