Tampa Bay Lightning Top 25 Under 25: #24 Klavs Veinbergs
Klavs Veinbergs joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization earlier this summer and enters our Top 25 Under-25s for 2022.
Before I can get into this player, I must first address the fact that he ended up outside the top 25 by both writers and readers, but still ended up on the final list. Indeed, Veinbergs was either ranked by individuals relatively high on the list, or he was not ranked at all. When everything was averaged out, it edged out someone like Nick Malik who only received votes in the 23-25 range but was ranked by many. Math can be weird.
Ultimately, our rankings are not rigorous and have no real weight behind them. They are an excuse to talk about many perspectives that you, the reader, haven’t heard from in a while or maybe never before! Now that that’s settled, let’s talk about that player, Klavs Veinbergs!
Klavs Veinbergs was drafted by the Lightning as an overrun (D+1) in the seventh round (224th overall, penultimate) in 2022 NHL Draft. Hailing from Latvia, Veinbergs has been part of the Riga system for several years, playing in the junior league of their KHL team and representing his country in all international tournaments. Namely, he scored one goal in five games for Latvia in the last men’s game Junior World Championshipsgaining some name recognition in the process.
It’s hard to miss Veinbergs on the ice. As 6’3″ at 19, he’s a physical specimen. Not only is he huge for his age, but he can skate very well and has great shooting mechanics. His WJC goal against Finland, where he made perfect contact with the puck on the power play from the right face-off circle, was magnificent.
Strengths and duties
Veinbergs is very clearly a scorer when you look at his stats from the last two regular seasons, tournaments and playoffs between the Latvian league, MHL and on the international stage.
Going forward, it won’t be that hard to see Veinbergs play as he will join the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and then possibly the NCAA. This is great news for his development as the USHL-NCAA system will allow this raw prospect to develop his strength and explosiveness around his frame, training to improve his skills and structure to help bring a game complete. Andrej Sustr took a similar path to the NHL, playing for the Youngstown Phantoms before enrolling at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
I’m a big fan of the USHL for its balance between games, practice and school. Frankly, it’s much safer and more responsible for these teenagers than what the CHL does. With Veinbergs in the USHL, we’ll finally see him among his peers and play plenty of hockey games in one place (he’s shuffled between leagues a lot so far).
What I would particularly like to see him work on is his explosiveness in skating. Right now he can move at a good speed when he has time to build it up, but he has the stride and mechanics set up to muscle up and be a lot more dynamic. Straight line speed is good, but in the NHL you have to get to that top speed fast or your opponent is going to cut your angles. I haven’t seen much of his defensive play, but I expect he needs some action to put some structure in place. Not everyone can be Anthony Cirelli.
I will put all the highlights of Veinbergs that I can find on the internet in order to provide you with as much visual data as possible. You can tell in almost all of these clips that he is the trigger for his team.
– Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) August 10, 2022
Klavs Veinbergs (#27 in brown) gets the secondary pass on this power play goal. He won the faceoff cleanly to Girts Silkalns (’03), who then passed it to Bogdans Hodass (’03) for the sole goal.
– Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) August 11, 2022
Talking about my ranking, I ranked Veinbergs 21st. In my ranking, I placed Veinbergs in a row with players who weren’t directly in the NHL/AHL pipeline and who I thought had a good chance of getting there. Two of the players in this group were not ranked: Cameron MacDonald for his draft position and legendary shooting, and Bennett MacArthur for his insane QMJHL point production. A player is ranked on this official list and I will talk about him soon. The last player is Veinbergs. In this level, I ranked Veinbergs first because I like the development path he has chosen and because I think his skills are very good.