The Lightning used the 53rd overall pick in the 2nd round to select the Cumberland native, who played for Phillips Exeter Academy last season where he had 31 goals and 34 assists for 65 points in 29 games.
“My grandparents actually live in Tampa,” he said. “When they heard that (I was drafted) they were really fired up, almost as fired up as me.”
He enjoyed the draft as much as possible knowing that he had no control over who selected him.
“It wasn’t too nerve racking, just because there’s nothing I can do anymore,” Hart said of waiting for his name being called. “I played all year, the interviews are all done, and the combine is done. It was pretty much on all (the teams). I just had to sit and wait.”
“It was a little nerve racking to see where I was going, but it was more exciting to be honest.”
The Lightning like what Hart brings to the table.
“He’s a player that we watched a number of times this year,” said Al Murray Lightning’s’ Director of Amateur Scouting. “He has terrific size. He has very good hands, ability to score goals and create offensive chances which is what really caught our eye.”
Murray, a long time scout for Hockey Canada, who helped to assemble the men’s national team together, said it’s tougher to scout players at the high school and prep levels.
“It’s always nice to evaluate a player playing strong competition,” said Murray. “Not to criticize the play at the high school level or the prep school level, but it’s not the same level as major juniors. It’s more difficult, but you look to see for the raw materials. You look for hockey sense, you look for hands skills, and you look for the ability to find open space and give the puck to your players on your team.”
“We think Brian has great raw materials and tools. We look forward to watch him develop at the college level.”
Hart will spend the next few years in Boston where he’ll attend Harvard to start his college hockey career, which will hopefully lead him to one of his goals.
“I don’t think there’s a better guy to play with than (Steven) Stamkos,” Hart stated. “One of my goals is to get to a point where I can play with a guy like that.”Murray has no problem Hart going to Harvard and points what Harvard did to a prospect they signed this spring.
“We just signed a player, we drafted previously out of Harvard – Alex Killron – Alex had a terrific time at Harvard,” Murray stated. “He got his education, he graduated, and he walked right onto our American League Hockey team (the Norfolk Admirals) this year that won the (AHL) championship.”
“It’s a fine level of hockey. He gets to play a mix of both of Hockey East and (ECAC) teams. It certainly didn’t stunt Alex’s development. We think Brian is a motivated individual that will take the opportunities to work hard and get better.”
On Monday, he was one of the 46 hopefuls to attend USA Hockey’s World Junior Evaluation Camp in August in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“It was a goal,” Hart added. “I was really hoping to make that camp and that team. It was finally nice to get an invite. It was exciting, but I was kind of expecting it.”
Murray said the experience will be valuable for Hart.
“We think any of those international opportunities for our players for their country is terrific development opportunities,” Murray strongly stated. “You get to face the best competition in the country and hopefully he makes the cuts where we can play against the Swedes and Finns (at the camp). You are playing some of the best players in the world.”