He’s too small. He’s not quick enough. I don’t know how his game will translate at the next level. These were all valid statements regarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher on his way up through the ranks. However, it seems like all critics and speculations will have to be put on hold for now, and possibly for good.
Conacher, who lit up the American Hockey League in each of his last two seasons, was assumed to be a sure Lightning training camp invitee prior to the start of this shortened season. Not only did he make the team, but he’s made an instant impact. Only five games into the 2013 season, Conacher has recorded two goals and five assists for seven points. All doubts regarding Conacher’s play were quickly erased, when he posted a goal and an assist in his National Hockey League debut in Tampa’s season opener on January 19 against the division rival Washington Capitals. Since then, he’s settled in nicely, notching at least a point in four of his first five NHL games.
Conacher seems to be the perfect fit amongst Tampa’s top six forwards. Not only can he make plays that not many players his age can make, but he has the ability to bury the puck as well. Head coach Guy Boucher has shown confidence in Conacher early in the season, playing him alongside veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell, while sticking him on the second power play unit as well.
A player that I’m sure Conacher models his game after would be teammate Martin St. Louis, which couldn’t be more perfect for a young player looking to establish himself as a force in the league. Although it is clearly early to compare the two, Conacher’s size, grit, determination, and will to do whatever it takes to better himself as a player, are certainly comparable to that of St. Louis. Playing alongside St. Louis everyday and seeing the way that he carries himself on and off the ice, will undoubtedly rub off on a talented young player like Conacher.
Now that Conacher has gotten his chance, he’s certainly making the most of it. This kid definitely deserves to be here.
Follow me on Twitter: @Matt_Metcalf