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Draft concludes with Lightning focusing on adding depth to the offense

Draft weekend has come and gone, and with development camp currently underway it is time to look at this year’s draft class. With the flat cap still in effect for at least one more year it was important for the Lightning to bolster up their prospect pool to the best of their scouts’ ability. As a result, Tampa bolstered their forward talent primarily on the wing along with goalie depth and a defenseman. Without further adieu here is Tampa’s draft class of 2022.

 

The Ice Man

Starting off, for the first time since 2019 Tampa made a selection in the first round of the draft. Then, with the 31st overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft the Lightning selected LW Issac Howard from the U.S. National Development Team. He played 60 games for the U18 Team scoring 33 goals and 49 assists for a total of 82 points. According to reports he is known to get his shots off quick with an arsenal of shots to attack the net with. Also, he is a solid passer but needs to work on his defensive skills. Improvement on the defensive side can come over time as well as building strength and muscle. Howard is a bit of the project but has the tools to be a formidable top 6 forward at the NHL level. Howard will be one of the draft picks attending development camp.

Trading back into the third round

Lightning did not have a pick in the second and third round but did make a trade with the Los Angeles Kings to get back into the third round. Tampa sent the 4th round pick they got from Chicago along with a 6th round pick from Detroit to LA for their 3rd round pick originally obtained from Pittsburgh. This would be the only trade the Lightning made the entire draft. Next, with that third round pick the Lightning selected RW Lucas Edmonds.

High praise for prospect

Edmonds received an invite to play in the OHL as an overage player this past season and the 21-year-old made the most of his opportunity. With the Kingston Frontenacs Edmonds scored 34 goals and 79 assists for a total of 113 points. As a result, he was awarded the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy as the top-scoring right winger. Age did not bother the Bolts as they saw how Edmonds developed in that one season causing them to trade up in order to snag him. The team expects him to start the season in the AHL and praise his playmaking abilities. He is not the fastest skater but is smart and will help generate scoring opportunities for his teammates. Fans will be able to see Edmonds’ skill on display this week as he is also attending development camp.

Goalie depth

Afterwards, Tampa did not pick again until the 5th round in which they drafted goaltender Nick Malik. Son of former NHL defenseman Marek Malik, (who played his final season with the Lightning in 08-09) Nick played in the Finnish Liiga with KooKoo last season. The 20-year-old appeared in 34 games and ranked 4th in the league with a .992 SV% and a 1.97 GAA. In addition, Nick posted 4 shutouts and the Bolts see great potential in Malik.

Back to drafting offense

Following, the Bolts continued adding to their depth at wing with the selection of Connor Kurth in the 6th round of the draft. Kurth ranked 5th in points in the USHL with 81 last season and his 35 goals were tied for 5th in the USHL. Coincidentally, Kurth and Howard played together in the Minnesota Bantam Elite League during the 18-19 season. Again, Kurth will be yet another draft pick from this class to attend development camp. While he is not a tall kid, he makes up for it with his bulk and scoring ability. Kurth is committed to play at University of Minnesota next season.

Final couple of picks

Entering the seventh and final round of the draft Tampa had back-to-back picks to end their draft with. The first of those picks was right-handed defenseman Dyllan Gill. He played for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL these past 2 seasons. Last season Gill played in 66 games scoring 6 goals and 15 assists. Last but not least, with the second-to-last pick of the draft the Lightning selected LW Klavs Veinbergs. The 6-foot-3 Latvian recorded 16 goals and 8 assists in 47 games with Riga of the Russian junior league this past season. Gill will attend development camp while Veinbergs will be the only draft pick who will not attend. All in all, the Lightning bolstered their talent on offense this draft and only time will tell how well these players pan out. Development camp kicked off on Monday with the annual 3-on-3 tournament to take place on Wednesday and Thursday. 

 

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