What a difference a year makes. Tampa Bay Lightning center prospect Brett Howden can attest to that.

Consider the way Howden, the No. 27 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, approached his second development camp with the Lightning in July. Buoyed by a strong showing last season with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League, with 81 points (38 goals, 43 assists) in 58 games, followed by three goals and an assist in five regular-season games and two assists in three Calder Cup Playoff games with Syracuse of the American Hockey League, he was more confident and eager to show how he had grown as a player.

It was a far cry from his experience the year before.

"Last year I remember walking out (at development camp) and just being in shock," Howden said. "It happens so fast. This time I got to settle down at home for a bit. After [going] through last year it's nice to be back and my confidence is definitely higher."

Howden's efforts did not go unnoticed by Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx, who complimented the center on his ability to blend in with the team immediately.

"[Brett's] a good [center] but he can play three positions," Groulx said. "He's not afraid to go out there in the playoffs and make plays. It's tough when you come up from playing juniors and the coach asks you to play left wing in the AHL playoffs. It's not your position but he went out there and was a good player for us. He has some confidence in himself. He's going to be a good player.

"For him it's about getting stronger and faster. He's got a good set of hands, good hockey sense, he's a competitor and a good person too."

Howden, listed at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, says he has put on about eight pounds since his draft year but understands his physical and defensive game will need to improve even more if he wants to compete in the NHL.