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Lightning go offensive with draft picks

by Turner Batten / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Halifax Mooseheads star Jonathan Drouin with the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Drouin brings tremendous skill and hockey sense to the organization. Many feel that Drouin has a good shot at making the big team and contributing this upcoming season.

Drouin amassed 41 goals and 105 points last season as he was recognized as the Canadian Hockey League’s MVP as well as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s MVP.

Through the rest of the draft the Lightning really stayed offensive as they selected five forwards and one goaltender with its six picks.

Both Drouin and Adam Erne, the Lightning’s second round pick, seem to be locks for the NHL and many think that will happen sooner than later.

Below is a synopsis of the Lightning’s picks from the second round on.

Adam Erne (F) – Second Round, 33rd Overall pick

The Tampa Bay Lightning got another good offensive player in Adam Erne with the 33rd overall pick in the second round of Sunday’s draft.

After a 72-point performance in the QMJHL with the Quebec Ramparts, Erne was tabbed as a late first-rounder in many minds.

The 6-foot, 210-pounder has tremendous upside and there is no reason he should not be a top-six forward in the NHL down the road. Erne is a very strong skater and has the ability to go around or through defenders. The 18-year-older also has a pair of very soft hands with a lethal shot and doesn’t struggle getting shots on net.

Kristers Gudlevskis (G) – Fifth Round, 124th Overall pick

The Lightning added to the goaltending depth in the fifth round with Gudlevskis. The Latvian-born netminder spent most of his time in Russia’s MHL last season with Riga, appearing in 56 games and posting a 2.09 goals against average with a .927 save-percentage. The 6-foot-4 keeper did appear in two KHL games, allowing three goals and earning a win.

Gudlevskis hopes to permanently make the KHL squad this upcoming season. The Lightning already have goalie ties to the KHL with Jaroslav Janus, who is expected to come to North America soon.

Henri Ikonen (F) – Sixth Round, 154th Overall pick

The Lightning picked up another good offensive player in the sixth round in Ikonen from the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.

Ikonen, who hails from Finland, led Kingston in points with 51 over 61 games. Ikonen scored 22 goals in the 2012-13 campaign and was tied for the team lead with 5 power play goals.

Ikonen is viewed as a solid two-way player who is more known for his ability to facilitate and setup his teammates. Even though he is not known for his goal-scoring ability, Ikonen has the ability to contribute in all aspects of the game.

Saku Salminen (F) – Seventh Round, 184th Overall pick

The Lightning stayed offensive with their first of two seventh round picks taking forward Saku Salminen from Sweden.

Salminen made his debut in SM-Liiga, the top Finnish professional league, this past season playing in 13 games as an 18-year-old for Jokerit. Salminen scored a goal and added an assist with Jokerit.

Salminen possesses size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and likes to play physical. For a forward, he has a good defensive game.

Joel Vermin (F) – Seventh Round, 186th Overall pick

Tampa Bay used its last pick of the 2013 draft on the Swiss-born forward. Vermin was the fourth European the Lightning selected at this year’s draft.

The insight on Vermin is that he is a good offensive player who has the ability to show up on highlight reels, but he needs to get stronger and more physical.

The 21-year-old played 47 games for Bern of the National League A, Switzerland’s top-tier professional league, scoring 13 goals and 35 points. Vermin also appeared in 19 playoff games amassing three goals and nine points.

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