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2021-23 NHL Draft Analyses

Kevin Brown

Photo by Kevin 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 three articles ago and moving on to 2021 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 the first two articles of the series and more like the last article. That’s to say that there will be just as much prediction as analysis.

2021 NHL Draft

In the 2021 NHL draft year, the Tampa Bay Lightning managed to hold seven draft choices. These spanned from the third round to the seventh with three of those selections in the last round of the draft. The Bolts first pick in this draft was D Roman Schmidt. Here is my most recent article covering my thoughts on him. It’s just a small snippet, but it’s to the point. I think he plays on the Syracuse Crunch’s third defense pairing this season.

The next pick is my favorite pick of this draft and it’s really not close. Dylan Duke was the fourth round pick. Since being drafted, he has played two years in the NCAA with the University of Michigan putting up half a point-per-game as a freshman and three quarters of a point-per-game as a sophomore. He’s entering his third season with the team. His rights expire in 2025 when he should be through with college.

F Cameron MacDonald was the next to be picked and wasn’t offered a contract. D Alex Gagne was chosen in the following round and has two years of play with the NCAA under his belt as well. He had eight points as a freshman and increased by one this last year in two more games played. The first of the seventh round picks was D Daniil Pylenkov who already had two years of KHL experience before being drafted. I have yet to see him play. Hopefully, he will come over to North America!

The next seventh round selection was F Robert Flinton. Last season was his first season in the NCAA and he put up just a bit over half a point-per-game. His rights expire a year later than the other college players just mentioned. The last pick for Tampa, was F Niko Huutanen. I think at this point he’s my second favorite player of this draft class. He put up 33 points in 48 games as a rookie in LIIGA last season.

2022 NHL Draft

At this season’s draft the Lightning only had six selections, but they got back into the first round picking F Isaac Howard at 31. As an NCAA freshman he put up just under half a point-per-game and has decided to transfer from Minnesota-Duluth to Michigan State. I can appreciate his choice in doing what he thinks will best help him develop. The next pick made was in the third round for over-ager, F Lucas Edmunds. Edmunds really turned it on in the latter half of his rookie season in the AHL. He started to get some top six ice time as it went and I’d expect that to continue into this season.

The Bolts next pick was G Nick Malik, in the fifth round. He really impressed me at this years 3v3 tournament. He’s got two years of experience in Liiga now and they have until next off-season to extend an offer to him if they wish. The sixth round pick was F Connor Kurth. I was impressed when I saw him last year and was a little less so this year. Tampa held two seventh round picks in which they chose D Dyllan Gill and F Klavs Veinbergs.

Gill nearly tripled his point total in the QMJHL this past season with 57 points. I would have never guessed as I saw him as a more defensive defender. Veinbergs was on the 3v3 tournament roster this year, but didn’t play. He made the jump to North America last season playing in the USHL where he put up 28 points in 50 games. He also recorded a whopping 93 penalty minutes! He’s set to play for Colorado College in the NCAA this season.

Michelle Brown

Photo by Michelle Brown

2023 NHL Draft

Finally, onto the most recent draft selections belonging to the Tampa Bay Lightning! I did a draft recap article for this draft just under two months ago that’s more in depth of what they have already accomplished. With their first pick at 37, they chose F Ethan Gauthier who slipped out of the first round. I didn’t see him a ton at the tournament. He had over a point-per-game in the QMJHL as a sophomore where he will return this season.

Two rounds later the Bolts took Jayson Shaugabay. As probably the youngest player at the 3v3 tournament he showed off a lot of creativity. Although it’s a close race and super early,  he is my favorite player of this draft year. Unfortunately, he is committed to Minnesota-Duluth just as Isaac Howard was. Howard chose to transfer schools which is not a common occurrence. Hopefully, Shaugabay has a better time of it than Howard did.

In the sixth and seventh rounds, the Lightning took their only D selection of the season, Warren Clark, as well as forwards Jack Harvey and Ethan Hay. I didn’t see a ton of Clark, but when I did I really saw him. The big man is committed to St. Cloud State University this coming season. Last season in the USHL Harvey put up over a point-per-game and is committed to Boston University. I thought he was defensively responsible at the tournament. It saw him earn a lot of ice time in the championship game. Hay gave off a similar reading. I think they’re expecting a breakout year from him in the OHL this season.

What comes next

Preseason! Come back to to read more!

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