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2018-2020 NHL Draft Analyses

Michelle Florence-Brown

Photo by Michelle Brown

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. I started with 2007 two articles ago and moving on to 2018 now! As we get closer to present, more of these players will just be coming into their careers. That means this article will be a bit different compared to most of the last two where I would measure their success. That’s to say that there will be much more prediction and much less analysis.

2018 NHL Draft

In 2018, the Tampa Bay Lightning had seven draft selections, but no first round pick and two seventh rounders. Two of them have played a small number of games in the NHL already and were recently re-signed to one year deals. Second round pick, Gabriel Fortier, and sixth round pick, Cole Koepke, will be in the same position as last year, but perhaps with more of a chance to stick. The bottom-six got a big shake-up this off-season and the Bolts brought in several forwards to fill those spots, but you never know.

The five remaining selections from this year have all moved onto somewhere else. Only fifth round choice, G Magnus Chrona is on an NHL deal with the San Jose Sharks. I liked a few of the other players that didn’t stick in our system and I have liked Koepke the whole time. I just don’t see any of these players making a huge NHL impact, but you never know with goaltenders as they develop over a longer period of time normally.

2019 NHL Draft

2019 is a similar case. Seven selections. Two have played in the NHL thus far. No second or fifth round picks, but two third and seventh round choices. First round pick, Nolan Foote, has played 19 games in the NHL for the New Jersey Devils since we traded him for Blake Coleman. It was recently announced his brother, Cal Foote, will be joining him there. Their next pick in the third round, Hugo Alnefelt, has played exactly one period in relief where he allowed two goals on seven shots. Not a great start, but he was far from ready at the time.

I really have faith he will do well at the NHL level at some point. He outplayed the Syracuse Crunch starter last year statically. The Bolts have brought over 29-year-old goalie Matt Tomkins, who had been playing in the SHL most recently. It is unclear if he will be taking over the Crunch’s starting spot or not, but it looks like it. He is signed for the next two seasons as is Jonas Johansson, the goalie the Lightning brought in to be the NHL backup. Alnefelt has one year left on his entry-level deal and his rights will still be held when it expires.

The next five picks after that have no NHL experience. The next selection was Maxim Cajkovic who was recently traded to the Minnesota Wild. The following selection, D Maxwell Crozier, just signed his first contract at the end of last season and hopefully sees at least bottom pairing minutes in Syracuse. The next selection is out the system and the one after that, F Mikhail Shalagin, signed an AHL deal and played on the Solar bears for a season before returning to Russia. They still hold his rights. He was an older pick and I liked him a lot in the one camp he attended. The last pick was McKade Webster. His fate within the organization will be decided at the end of this season.

Kevin Brown

Photo by Kevin Brown

2020 NHL Draft

The 2020 Tampa draft pool was a little larger with nine selections. None of these were in the first round. The first two of Tampa’s picks in this draft, forwards Jack Finley and Gage Goncalves, have progressed nicely in the AHL and could be options for call ups this season. Finley started off by missing a lot of time due to injury and Goncalves looks like a different player every time I see him. The Lightning’s next pick Maxim Groshev just came over from Russia this off-season. He will be interesting to watch. The fourth pick the Bolts made, D Jack Thompson, has also progressed well in the AHL. He could see some increased minutes this season, but with the log jam of NHL defenders ahead of him it would probably take an injury bug for him to get call up.

The fourth round pick was D Eamon Powell who has been playing with Boston College. He is a bit small, but has a lot of skill. I think he earns an NHL deal when his college season is complete. The next guy, F Jaydon Dureau, has mostly played with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. In this classes first camp, he was easily my favorite of this bunch. He hasn’t exactly lived up to that since signing on. He needs to play with the Crunch this season. The sixth round choice was F Nick Capone. He enters his fourth year in the NCAA this season. I don’t think he gets an offer from the Lightning at the end of his season.

The second sixth round pick was G Amir Miftakhov who impressed in the AHL and ECHL, but had his contract terminated. The last selection wasn’t signed and thus is no longer in the organization. At this point, I think Jack Thompson has the most likelihood of having a lengthy NHL career. I could see Finley, Goncalves, and Powell playing some games in the NHL. I need to see Groshev some more before I can really say for him.

What comes next

The most recent drafts! I will be looking at the years following these next so come back to to read more!

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