Drafting Skill: Tampa Bay Lightning

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Tampa Bay Lightning

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Vladislav Namestnikov (C) 27th overall – Namestnikov is a curious case. He’s improved his overall play each season since coming into the NHL, but he’s never quite found his offensive game. He hasn’t surpassed 35 points yet in his young career, and that’s while playing on an offensive powerhouse of a team. Overall, he’s a good player for the Lightning. You’re never expecting home-runs late in the first round, so the fact that he’s consistently played well for the Lightning, I’m sure they’re fine with it.

Round 2 – Nikita Kucherov (RW) 58th overall – What a steal. In the past few seasons, Kucherov has quickly become one of the most dominant scorers in the game. Over the past three seasons (including 68 games this year), Kucherov has 96 goals in 227 games. He’s been on fire this year, nearing 40 goals with a half-dozen games left. He’s been everything the Lightning dreamed of getting, especially in the 2nd round! Huge steal here for Tampa.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to St. Louis for Eric Brewer. Not a bad trade for Tampa, as Brewer played 4+ seasons for Tampa.

It must be noted, Tampa selected Ondrej Palat in the 7th round of this draft. Palat has played 300 NHL games, and scored 210 points. He’s a top-6 forward on a stacked team. Absolute STEAL of a pick. This one even more so than the Kucherov pick. Tampa also picked defenceman Nikita Nesterov in the 5th round (128 NHL games played). Amazing draft for Tampa.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Slater Koekkoek (D) 10th overall – Not a great pick for Tampa, he’s only suited up for 41 NHL games (0 goals, 5 assists). There are some who still believe Koekkoek will develop into an everyday NHLer, he’s already 23 years old and hasn’t found consistent work for the big club in Tampa. To make matters worse, Filip Forsberg was selected right after him, not to mention other defencemen who have developed better such as Cody Ceci, Olli Maatta, etc.

Round 1 – Andrei Vasilevskiy (G) 19th overall – Tampa acquired this pick in exchange for Kyle Quincey. While Quincey has played well throughout his career since this trade, Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future in Tampa. The Lightning traded away Ben Bishop right before the deadline this year, solidifying that the new is now Vasi’s. Goalies are hard to come by, and Vasi has shown potential to be among the elite. Next season will be huge for the youngster.

Round 2 – Dylan Blujus (D) 40th overall – Blujus still has yet to play at the NHL level, and at 23, it’s hard to fathom he ever will. Tampa has great depth on defense, and Blujus may not be able to find his way in. It’s always tough to find NHL players in the second round, but this looks like a miss by Tampa.

Round 2 – Brian Hart (RW) 53rd overall – Tampa acquired this pick from Philadelphia by trading Pavel Kubina. Hart is currently playing in the ECHL, and only has 7 points in 29 games. Not a great pick, not a great second round for Tampa Bay.

Round 3 – Tanner Richard (LW) 71st overall – Richard has played all of 3 games in the NHL since being drafted. Tampa is a deep, deep team. There won’t be many spots opening up any time soon, and it doesn’t appear that Richard will be knocking on the door regardless. As a 23 year old, he’s currently produced 28 points in 40 games in the AHL.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jonathan Drouin (LW) 3rd overall – Drouin is one of the best young players in the NHL today. He possesses high-end talent with high-end speed. After all of his hold-out last year, he came in for Tampa and was one of their best players in their playoff run (14 points in 17 games). He’s put up 50 points in 66 games this year, and only looks to improve from there.

Round 2 – Adam Erne (LW) 33rd overall – Erne is never going to be a point producer in the NHL, but he does bring a physical element, while remaining reliable in his own end. He’s currently on the NHL roster, and hasn’t looked out of place. He can fill a role on the bottom-6 for Tampa, so it’s not a complete waste of a second round pick. Next season will determine how well this pick really looks.

Round 3 – Pick was traded in a package that brought in Anders Lindback (G). Lindback never established himself as an NHL goaltender, but moving a 3rd round pick isn’t overly costly when they had a couple season where Lindback served as backup in return.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Anthony DeAngelo (D) 19th overall – DeAngelo was traded to Arizona for a 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft. He’s seeing his first action in the NHL since being drafted, however the hope was that he would end up there sooner. He possesses high-end offensive ability, and is still only 21 years old. He could fit in very well with the Arizona rebuild, but Tampa looks bad for only getting a 2nd round pick after taking DeAngelo 19th overall just 2 years earlier.

Round 2 – Dominik Masin (D) 35th overall – Tampa traded Joshau Ho-Sang to the Islanders for 2 second round picks. Masin is playing his first full year professional this year in the AHL, and plays the game with an edge. He could develop into a bottom pairing guy in the future, but he’s a couple years away. Trading away Ho-Sang is tough for fans to swallow, as he projects as a top 6 forward.

Round 3 – Johnathan MacLeod (D) 57th overall – Another defensemen for Tampa, another one that’s at least 2-3 years away. He just finished up his 3rd year for Boston University, and didn’t stand out by any means. Hard to judge this one yet, but again, trading Ho-Sang doesn’t help…

Round 3 – Their original pick was traded to Vancouver for the rights to Jason Garrison which has worked out well for Tampa. He’s been a consistent player for Tampa each season since coming over.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded with Radko Gudas to Philadelphia for Braydon Coburn. This looks like an awful trade for Tampa, as Gudas is just as good (if not better) than Braydon Coburn now, and they still gave up a 1st round pick. Tampa also traded the pick they received from the Rangers in the St. Louis trade to the Islanders, which was used to draft Anthony Beauvillier (great young prospect), however they did receive Mitchell Stephens (pick in round 2) and Anthony Cirelli (pick in round 3) in return – who both played for Team Canada in the World Jrs this past year.

Round 2 – Mitchell Stephens (C) 33rd overall – His offence has come along nicely in the last couple of seasons. Many describe Stephens as a great leader, on and off the ice. He plays the game well defensively, and has great playmaking ability. He’s like a few years away from playing NHL hockey, so look for his offence to continue to grow.

Round 2 – Matthew Spencer (D) 44th overall – Spencer has shown very good offensive numbers in his final year in the OHL. He finished the regular season with 29 points in 60 games. He’ll likely start next season in the AHL, and likely won’t make an impact in his first couple of seasons as he transitions to pro hockey.

Round 3 – Dennis Yan (LW) 64th overall – Yan is again tearing up the QMJHL, putting up 75 points (46 goals) in 64 games this year. He’s a big left winger, with a heavy shot. He’s a good find for the Lightning in the second round. No need to rush him along with the talent they possess up front, so Yan will get the time to continue to grow his game next year in the AHL.

Round 3 – Anthony Cirelli (C) 72nd overall – Cirelli put up 7 points in 7 games for Team Canada at this year’s World Juniors. He’s a tall winger, and hasn’t yet filled out. He put up great numbers in the OHL this year, especially for a 3rd round pick, with 64 points in 51 games. He has the potential to be a good playmaker at the NHL level, it will be up to him to put in the work the next couple of seasons.

All-in-all, the Lightning have had amazing drafts. Not only have they usually gotten it right when picking near the top, they’ve also had tremendous late round picks. They are the blueprint for what every team can only HOPE to get when they make their late round selections.


Credit to: hockeydb.com & http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm


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