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Lightning Have Options in Draft

by Brian Breseman / Tampa Bay Lightning
What do Milan Lucic, Paul Stastny, Brandon Dubinsky, David Backes, Duncan Keith, Mike Cammalleri, Jason Pominville, David Krejci, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann and Guillaume Latendresse have in common? They have all been NHL second-round draft picks since 2001. Now, imagine the Lightning adding two players of that caliber to the franchise and you can see why having the two picks in the second round of this year’s draft is so important.

One thing is for certain, the Lightning’s two picks in the second round (32nd overall and Philadelphia’s second-round pick) give them options other teams would be envious of. Whether General Manager Brian Lawton and his scouting staff make the two selections or use them to move up in the draft, regarded as extremely deep, Tampa Bay will be dealing from a position of strength come June 27 in Montreal.

“In my mind, the most important point in having two second round picks is the ability to move up in the draft,” Lightning Assistant General Manager Claude Loiselle said. “If you find that there is a player you really like, and it could be a late first-round pick, you can trade those two picks and move up to possibly acquire a first-round pick.”

A perfect example is the case of the New Jersey Devils trading up to draft Zach Parise. The Devils dealt a pair of picks to obtain the 17th overall pick which they used to take the North Dakota product in the 2003 draft.

“The picks are valuable,” Loiselle said. “Particularly in a draft that is as strong as this one. When you walk into a draft you have your list of players, a list of guys that you’ve pre-approved through your scouting system. Whatever you like about players, whether its competiveness, speed, smarts, whatever it is, you’ve got your group of guys that you’re looking to build your team with. If one of those guys are available and you know that another team is willing to trade that pick for two second round picks and maybe a player, who knows. But having the picks gives you ammunition going into the draft.”

With a lack of organizational depth each pick is magnified. The Lightning have had one selection in the second round since 2005, taking Dana Tyrell in 2007. Matt Smaby is the most recent second-round pick to see significant time with the Lightning after being selected 41st overall in 2003.

In 2002 the Detroit Red Wings used two second-round picks to draft Hudler and current Washington Capital Tomas Fleischmann. Not too bad for a single round. Should the Lightning use their second-round picks this year, they will be looking for the best available players as opposed to searching to fill certain positions.

“The philosophy is to always take the best player available,” Loiselle said. “If it takes you two, three, four years to develop a player who knows what you’re going to do during those years and who’s going to become available. You select the best player available and the same goes for the first or second pick overall. You don’t pick by position, you pick by the best player available, period.”

Notable Second Round Picks since 2001
Pick Team Player Pos.
2006 50 BOS Milan Lucic LW
2005 44 COL Paul Stastny C
2005 45 MTL Guillaume Latendresse RW
2004 60 NYR Brandon Dubinsky C
2004 61 PIT Alex Goligoski D
2004 63 BOS David Krejci C
2003 49 NSH Shea Weber D
2003 62 STL David Backes C
2002 63 DET Tomas Fleischmann LW
2002 58 DET Jiri Hudler C
2002 54 CHI Duncan Keith D
2001 49 LAK Michael Cammalleri C
2001 55 BUF Jason Pominville R

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