In Prospect Profiles, we’ll take a look at a Lightning prospect and introduce you to them. These players represent the possible future of the Lightning. If you’re interested in seeing into the future, then this is for you.
Name: Anthony Cirelli
Weight: 161 pounds
Junior Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
2016-17 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Acquired: 2015 Draft, 3rd Round, 72nd overall
Anthony Cirelli came to the Lightning in the 2015 draft in the 3rd round. The pick used to take him was acquired at the Draft. General Manager Steve Yzerman traded a 1st round pick, 28th overall that was used to select Anthony Beauvilier, to the New York Islanders for a 2nd round pick used to take Mitchell Stephens and this pick.
During the 2015 draft, Yzerman and Scouting Director Al Murray went more towards complementary forwards with the selections of Stephens, Cirelli, Jonne Tammela, and Matheiu Josephs. While all four are a ways from the NHL, they all have shown promise and have taken nice steps forward after being drafted.
Cirelli was coming off of a Memorial Cup Championship with Oshawa in his rookie OHL season where he scored 36 points in 68 games while playing on the lower lines of an absolutely stacked team that featured 6 draft picks among the top 8 scorers, including Michael Dal Colle, a 5th overall selection of the Islanders in 2014. A highlight of Cirelli’s rookie year with Oshawa was scoring the overtime winner against the Kelowna Rockets to win the Memorial Cup.
Five of Oshawa’s top 8 scorers moved on after the 2014-15 season. Michael Dal Colle assumed the Captain’s C for the 2015-16 team but was traded at the deadline. With Dal Colle moving on as well, Cirelli became the new Captain and will return to the Generals again as the Captain for the 2016-17 season.
Cirelli followed up his rookie OHL season with 59 points in 62 games on a significantly weaker Oshawa team. He finished out his year playing three games in the AHL for the Syracuse Crunch after Oshawa was bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
Yzerman and Murray have emphasized that even for players that are projected to be fourth liners and complementary forwards, that they should exhibit offensive abilities in Juniors and the AHL. Showing that offensive ability at those levels exhibits that the player has the hockey IQ to keep up better in the NHL even if their offensive skills won’t stack up at the top level.
For Cirelli, he’ll need to add weight to make it in the NHL as he currently is light at 160 pounds, despite his 6’0″ height. He is a good faceoff guy as he had a 54.18% win percentage for 12th best in the OHL among forwards that took more than 1,000 faceoffs. Continuing to be good in the faceoff circle as he moves up and adding weight to survive the rigors of the NHL could make him into a decent two-way depth center and faceoff specialist. You’d also like to see him to continue to improve his defensive game so that he can also contribute on the penalty kill.
For the time being, Cirelli will continue to be one of the top forwards for an improved Oshawa Generals team in 2016-17. Surpassing a point per game scoring pace this season as well as adding some weight would be a good sign for his development as he finishes out his Junior career. He’s already signed an Entry Level Contract with the Lightning and should be expected to become a contributor for the Syracuse Crunch for the 2017-18 season.