The Tampa Bay Lightning might just be the busiest team at the 2012 NHL Draft.
It's easy to see why with possibly six picks over the opening two rounds. Entering this year's Draft, slated June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman will have two first-round picks and three, possibly four, in the second.
With this many picks at his disposal, Tampa Bay Director of Amateur Scouting, Al Murray, certainly has his work cut out.
"Steve has put us in a position with two first-round picks and three seconds, maybe a fourth, so we're going to be able to get a little bit of everything if we want," Murray told NHL.com. "We can go for a defenseman, a goalie, a center or wing or just load up at a certain position. We're entering the Draft pretty open-minded and trying to rank the best 40 players of the group."
Does Murray feel this year's class is deeper than 2011?
"Last year, there were six or eight guys on most lists that were at the top and it was the same six or eight guys throughout the year," Murray said. "This year, there are 12-to-15 guys that are in every order so every team might get the second or third guy on their list. When you talk to different people, there's 14 different names that are all within their top 10, so there will be some very good players who fall out of the top 10 and there will be a couple of surprises in the top 10."
Tampa Bay has the No. 10 and No. 19 picks in the first round. Many scouts consider Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting to be the first player selected. Does Murray?
"It's very possible Nail could be the first pick or the fifth pick," Murray said. "There are a lot of very comparable players at the top, and some of it will be team needs and some of it will be team preference as far as styles of play -- it'll be all over the place. I don't think you can predict this Draft at all."
Murray did admit this year's Combine has added significance since several top prospects were sidelined by injury.
"I'm not sure [the injuries] are going to play a major role, but you haven't had that much opportunity to see the players live, so you're trying to grab every piece of information that you can," Murray said. "Some teams will look at this to see just how healthy players are, how they test out, to make sure the injuries are properly healed as much as anything."
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