TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of two teams, along with the Anaheim Ducks, currently holding two first-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft. That's a pretty nice place to be, according to Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray.
"It's always a good year to have two first-round picks," he told NHL.com. "If you look at any draft, there's always 45 to 55 [players], depending on the year ... that become regular NHL players. It's our job to make sure we find at least two of those guys in the first round." The Lightning have their pick at No. 19 and will also have either the 28th or 29th pick, depending on how the New York Rangers fare in the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning acquired the pick from New York in the Martin St. Louis trade.
Murray sees the strength of this year's draft at forward, specifically on the wings.
"I think there are probably more wingers than there are centers or [defensemen]," he said. "And I'd say it is a little light on goaltending. Probably the No. 1 position is wingers. Lots of wingers. ... We think the quality is there. It's not all first-line players, top-three defensemen, franchise goalkeepers. There's some good players that will be contributors to NHL teams, in our opinion."
Picking those players has been more difficult this season due to the narrow talent gaps between the top prospects.
"I think there are more guys that are similar to each other than a lot of years," he said. "It's a little bit difficult. It tends to come down to team preferences. Everybody has certain attributes they want their players to have. They place a little more emphasis on one of those attributes than the other. That's often why you can get a guy you really like because one team values size more than another team who values speed over another team that values talent.
"Our talented guy, your big guy is there and somebody else's fast guy is there. We all get the guy we want and five years from now we'll see who was the right guy and who wasn't quite up to the challenge."