TAMPA, Fla. — Isaac Howard is a Minnesota kid learning to adjust to life in Tampa. Howard joined his new teammates this week at the TGH Ice Plex for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s annual Development Camp.
“It’s a little hot. I was already sweating walking to my car,” he said. “Basically, I’m on vacation doing what I love right now. It’s kind of surreal. You get a great place to live, a great place to hang out, and a great place to play hockey.”
The Lightning selected Howard 31st overall in last week’s NHL Draft from the United State National Team Development Program. He led the U.S. program’s under-18 team with 82 points in 60 games last season.
However, he’s committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth; so don’t expect him to be scoring goals at Amalie Arena any time soon.
“Just here to enjoy the moment and get used to the Tampa culture,” Howard said. “I’m going to go next year and have a great year at Duluth. It might be one year or two years before I come here. I’ll take it one step at a time.”
Howard was Tampa Bay’s first first-round draft pick since 2019.
“I don’t feel too much pressure,” Howard told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “If there is pressure on you, it’s a privilege, it’s a good thing. I just like to enjoy the moment. It’s surreal what I get to do out here. There’s no reason to crumble. Just have fun with it.”
Howard traveled to Tampa straight from the NHL Draft in Montreal. He didn’t have any of his own equipment with him. He was issued Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov’s stick.
“There’s a lot of goals and points in that stick,” he said.
Fitting because Kucherov is Howard’s favorite Lightning player.