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Bolts’ two picks in first round give team an opportunity to score big at Draft

by Clune Walsh / Tampa Bay Lightning

With a 2.1 percent chance of winning the first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Lightning, for the most part have ended up where they were expected to be in the first round, earning the 10th pick at the soon approaching NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.

However, the Lightning have also come into possession of the 19th overall pick as well due to the Feb. 27 trade that sent Kyle Quincey to Detroit. This means that aside from the Washington Capitals, the Bolts are the only other team that will enjoy the luxury of having two first-round picks in the upcoming draft. This situation comes as a familiar one as the Lightning had two first-round picks in 2009 (second pick also being acquired from Detroit), with which they selected Victor Hedman and Carter Ashton.

The first possible path the Lightning front office could take would be to trade one of the picks away to another team. In exchange, the Lightning could possibly look to receive the coveted number-one goaltender they’ve been seeking should one be available that makes sense to general manager Steve Yzerman. Mathieu Garon had a solid season in net, winning 12 of 17 over a two- month stretch before his season was ended by a torn groin muscle in March. While Garon’s 2.85 goals-against average over the past season is promising, however, his contract is set to expire at the end of the upcoming 2012-2013 season. With the goaltender free-agent market looking a little bare this summer, the Bolts could have a possible window to trade one of the first-round picks for a net-minder or another defenseman. Either position would be a valuable pick-up for the team as Yzerman and company look to improve on the defensive end.

The opportunity of having two first-round picks is also a chance for the Lightning to add even more young talent to their ever-growing list of prominent prospects. Lightning fans got to see quite a bit of the young talent on display this season as Dustin Tokarski, Mike Angelidis, Trevor Smith and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were all called up from Norfolk of the AHL at one point or another. More young players are very important for the future of the franchise considering the fact that the Lightning are now the seventh-oldest team in the league. The injection of more youthful prospects into the organization will also be key in the event that the injury report begins building up sky-high as it did last season.

Lightning fans may be wondering, exactly what kind of caliber players can be expected at the 10th and 19th positions? What does history show about these players and what are they capable of?

You don’t have to look back very far into the draft’s history to see extremely talented players that were taken at the 10th and 19th spots. Andrei Kostitsyn, Chris Kreider, and Ryan Getzlaf were all taken with either the 10th or 19th picks within the last decade. Getzlaf is currently averaging about 20 goals a year over the past seven seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and has a Stanley Cup ring to boot. Kreider, making his postseason debut, scored five goals and tallied two assists for the New York Rangers during their recent postseason run. Kreider is just 21 years old and was drafted just three years ago in 2009. Other notable picks taken at slots 10 and 19 include Martin Straka (717 career points), Keith Tkachuk (1,065 career points), and Teemu Selanne (1,406 career points, ranked 19th all-time).

Regardless of the direction the Lightning choose to go once the draft rolls along later this June, it is undeniable that only promising things are in-store for the future of the team with the two first-round picks.

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