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9 possible picks for the Lightning at the 2014 NHL Draft

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning hold two picks (Nos. 19 and 28) in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, which will be held June 27 in Philadelphia. Lightning beat reporter Missy Zielinski looks at nine prospects who could be good fits for the Bolts.

1. Alex Tuch, C/RW, USA U-18 (USHL)

Projected selection: No. 19

Tuch, 18, was third on the U.S. National Under-18 team for points with 32 (13 goals, 19 assists) during the 2013-14 season. At 6-foot-3, 213-pounds, Tuch has an NHL body and the potential to be a skilled power forward, as he learns to use his body.

2. Sonny Milano, LW, USA U-18 (USHL)

Projected selection: No. 19

Milano skated alongside fellow 2014 draft prospect Alex Tuch on the U.S. National Under-18 team’s top line in 2013-14, amassing 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) in 25 games, good for second on the team. The 18-year-old has the ability to be dynamic offensively and was tied for third for scoring with 10 points in seven games at the World Juniors under-18 tournament.

3. Julius Honka, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Projected selection: No. 19

Honka, 18, led all defensemen on Swift Current during the 2013-14 season with 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists) to go along with a plus-10 rating in 62 games played. The blueliner, who is a tad smaller in stature for a defenseman at 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, also was a member of Finland’s Gold-medal World Junior Championship team.

4. Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, Linkoping (SWE)

Projected selection: No. 19

Interestingly enough, Vrana left his native home of the Czech Republic at 15 to play in Sweden and has found his way in the Swedish Hockey League. Vrana, 18, was expected to play more with the men’s team this year, but instead split his time between teams. The skilled forward also represented the Czech Republic at the 2014 World Junior Championship, collecting one goal and one assist in five games.

5. Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Projected selection: No. 28

Much like defenseman, Andrej Sustr, dependability, confidence and poise with the puck are all qualities attributed to Travis Sanheim. Sanheim, 18, played in the World Juniors Under-18 tournament and notched six assists in six games to lead all defensemen in scoring.

6. Roland McKeown, D, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Projected selection: No. 28

Roland McKeown has the ability to be a Top-four defenseman in the league and can play in all situations, as he logged big minutes during the 2013-14 season. In 62 games this year with the Kingston Frontenacs, he collected 11 goals and 32 assists for 43 points to go along with a plus-38 rating.

7. Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Projected selection: No. 28

Anthony DeAngelo was the top goal scorer among defensemen in the OHL with 15 goals and also had 56 assists, good for second on the Sting for points (71). With the 18-year-old being suspended twice this season, his ability to control his emotions on the ice will be something the scouts will have to think about.

8. Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (H-East)

Projected selection: No. 28

As a true freshman at his dream school of Boston College, Demko proved himself early and took over as the starter for the Eagles. Demko, 18, posted a 16-5-3 record, 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, as he led BC to the NCAA Frozen Four. Demko is now expected to battle for the starter role for Team USA at the World Junior Championship. The Lightning have a lot of young goaltending depth, so they would have to think very highly of Demko to select him with one of their two first round picks.

9. Conner Bleackley, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Projected selection: No. 28

Already expressing how big of a fan they are of forward Ryan Callahan’s in-the-paint play, Conner Bleackley’s style may raise eyebrows of Lightning scouts. A captain at the age of 18, Bleackley is a hard worker, who often plays in the dirty areas of the ice. He was also on nearly a point-per-game pace in 2013-14 with 68 points (29 goals, 39 assists) in 71 games with Red Deer.

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