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Lightning take best available approach into 2016 NHL Draft

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have nine selections at the 2016 NHL Draft being held at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center starting Friday and concluding Saturday.

The Lightning will make their first pick during Friday’s first round, where they own the 27th overall pick. The Bolts traded out of the first round in 2015, swapping the 28th pick to the New York Islanders for a 2015 second (No. 33) and third (No. 72) round selection. Tampa Bay’s last time drafting in the first round was 2014 when the Bolts took defenseman Anthony DeAngelo with the 19th pick.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was succinct when asked about the Bolts’ top priority over the two-day draft.

“Make good selections,” Yzerman said.

The Lightning own a pick in each of the seven rounds and have two picks in the second (Nos. 44 and 58) and seventh (Nos. 206 and 208) rounds. The Draft will pick back up Saturday morning at 10 a.m. starting with round two until the conclusion.

Yzerman said the Lightning generally favor a take-the-best-player approach as opposed to drafting for specific needs. The Bolts have depth at all positions throughout the organization and are focused on stockpiling more talent rather than honing in on one area.

“We kind of try to take the best possible prospect,” Yzerman said. “With our first pick being the 27th, history generally the kids take a few years to be NHL ready, and your needs can change from time to time. So, we’ll look at the best prospect we can get.”

Provided none of the picks are traded, the Lightning will have nine selections for the second year in a row. Prior to 2015, the 2005 Draft was the last time the Bolts had nine or more picks.

Tampa Bay owns picks No. 27 (first round), 44 (second), 58 (second), 88 (third), 118 (fourth), 148 (fifth), 178 (sixth), 206 (seventh) and 208 (seventh) in 2016.

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