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2007-12 NHL Draft Analyses

Wayne Masut | The Scrum

With the departure of the longest tenured Tampa Bay Lightning player it seems as good a time as any to examine our draft classes from Alex Killorn’s draft year forward. That was all the way back in 2007!

2007 NHL Draft

The Tampa Bay Lightning had nine draft picks ranging from the second round on to the seventh round. Of the nine selections, only three played a game in the NHL. One of which, Johan Harju, was not with the Lightning and just 10 games. Still not bad for a sixth round pick. The other two are second round pick Dana Tyrell and third round choice Alex Killorn. Tyrell made the NHL first which is expected considering he didn’t go the college route. Killorn obviously had a lengthier career in the NHL and with Tampa and has only just recently moved on at 33 years old.

2008 NHL Draft

The Bolts possessed eight choices the following year including the first overall and picks in the fourth through seventh rounds. Tampa did much better this draft especially considering that after choosing Steven Stamkos first overall the they hit on four of seven picks starting in the fourth round. Stamkos is far and away the best and was the first to make the NHL. After him, James Wright and Dustin Tokarski from the fourth and fifth rounds respectively played at least a seasons worth of games and Tokarski is still around the league. Then, both sixth round picks, Mark Barberio and Luke Witkowski, have seen a couple seasons worth of NHL matches. This was our best draft in the 2000’s.

Lightning vs Predators | September 22, 2017 | TBL win 3-1 | Photo: Wayne Masut

2009 NHL Draft

Another good year with a high pick. This time the Lightning had seven draft picks. Two in the first round and one in each of the other rounds except for the third. Another top pick with the second overall was our best pick if you can imagine that. Victor Hedman should hit 1000 games played this season! The other first rounder, Carter Ashton didn’t play a whole seasons worth of games, but was pretty close. Second round pick Richard Panik fared much better just a bit later and played over 500 games most of which were not with the Bolts, but still. None of the picks after him made the league.

Lightning vs Predators | September 22, 2017 | TBL win 3-1 | Photo: Wayne Masut

2010 NHL Draft

This is the year Steve Yzerman started his tenure with the Lightning and this draft was his first as General Manager. He had a decent amount of picks to work with at eight starting with sixth overall. He only hit on two. He chose Brett Connolly sixth overall who did play over 500 games as a bottom six forward. Numerous players emerged as better options almost immediately. His other hit was with third round pick Radko Gudas. The other six picks didn’t make the NHL. I’d happily argue that Gudas was his best pick in the draft. 1200 games and rising is pretty good for just two players.

2011 NHL Draft

Yzerman only had six picks to work with in this draft year, however, it is the best draft we have ever had. There were no third or fourth round picks and two sevenths. Each player has played at least one game. Sixth rounder, Adam Wilcox, played one game. Seventh rounder, Matthew Peca, played a seasons worth of games. Fifth rounder, Nikita Nesterov, played a little over two seasons worth of games.

The other three draft selections should all hit 700 games in the league this season and are signed for years out. Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat are the guys we know and love. Namestnikov has bounced around a bit, but did have a brief return last year and Palat just departed last off-season. Palat has the most games played in the league, but Kucherov has the most played for the Lightning now and the most points with over 700. He likely hits 800 this year!

During the Tampa Bay Lightning Game at Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, November 22, 2017, Photo: Wayne Masut

During the Tampa Bay Lightning Game at Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, December 3, 2016, Photo: Wayne Masut

During the Tampa Bay Lightning Game at Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, November 3, 2016, Photo: Wayne Masut

2012 NHL Draft

Yzerman gets back to the draft with eight selections again. This is the oddest draft for the Bolts I’d argue, but another good one. Six out of eight made the league with just two second rounders missing. Our first choice in the draft and first of two in the first round was defenseman Slater Koekkoek at tenth overall who just recently retired. He played in just over two seasons worth of games. Not the greatest first round pick ever despite showing promise. He recently opened up about his health issues that kept him from reaching that potential. It serves as a good reminder that these are real people with their own struggles.

The second first rounder, Andrei Vasilevskiy, continues to be our best pick of this draft! Aside from third rounder, Tanner Richard, who played three games for the Bolts the players after him all played at least one seasons worth of games. Fourth round pick, Cedric Paquette, has actually played the most NHL games so far, but should be passed by Vasilevskiy this season. Paquette was called up during the playoffs, seemingly out of no where, to add some physicality to the lineup and didn’t look back.

The sixth and seventh round choices are where it gets a bit weird. Sixth rounder, Jake Dotchin, also made the NHL seemingly out of no where and became Hedman’s top line partner allowing him to join in on the offense more. One excellent season together is all we got before just as quickly as he appeared on the scene he apparently breeched his contract and it became terminated. Then the seventh round selection, Nikita Gusev, had no interest in coming to North America. However, we traded his rights to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft to have them take a hefty Jason Garrison contract off their hands. He did come to North America shortly after and was moderately successful playing in just shy of 100 games recording 54 points before heading back overseas.

During the Tampa Bay Lightning Game at Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, November 3, 2016, Photo: Wayne Masut

What comes next

Each of these draft years is over a decade old and several players are still paying dividends or just recently ceased. That’s how important drafting well is. I will be looking at the years following these next so come back to to read more!

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