It didn’t take long for the Tampa Bay Lightning to get their top draft choice under contract, inking Nolan Foote to a three-year entry-level contract today. Foote was selected 27th overall in Friday’s draft, joining his brother Cal Foote in the Lightning organization.
The 18-year old Foote was something of a surprise selection at the end of the first round, as many publications had him ranked a little further down the draft board. NHL Central Scouting for instance had the Kelowna Rockets forward ranked 37th among North American skaters in their final ranking. Still, it’s hard to question an organization that has been so successful in the draft over the last decade.
First and foremost when evaluating Foote, one notices the top-end awareness and quick decision making that comes from being around hockey from birth. The son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, the 6’3″ forward often anticipates where the play will go before it does and finds himself in an excellent position to contribute offensively. Add that to his solid frame and willingness to drive the puck to difficult areas and you at times have what looks like an NHL power forward in the making. Unfortunately, like his brother, Foote comes with questionable skating and playmaking ability. Though he can often seem unstoppable coming off the wall if he has time to get up to speed, his edges need work and it’s unclear where his offensive ceiling really lies.
Still, the Lightning obviously believe they can groom Foote into a force at the NHL level. He’ll almost certainly return to the WHL next season to play, while he is also on Canada’s camp roster for this year’s World Junior Summer Showcase.