Everything went as planned for the Lightning last night at the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. Steven Stamkos
is a solid young man who spent almost four hours graciously and patiently obliging every interview and autograph request last night. Stamkos is genuinely pumped about playing in Tampa Bay, and the gathered NHL "experts" couldn't stop gushing about how much he'll help the Lightning this coming season. Stamkos received a message from Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier
as he bounced from photo booth to photo booth in the bowels of Scotiabank Place.
"Congratulations and I'll call you after the weekend" was the message from the Lightning's last #1 overall pick.
Teams were required by the NHL to put the number "08" on the jerseys presented to drafted players, but the Lightning had a surprise waiting for Stamkos. Once he left the stage and ventured back to the interview area, he was presented with a #91 jersey, which he quickly donned for the rest of the evening.
Stamkos had about 25 folks in his group of family and friends that relaxed in the Lightning suite for much of the evening, with 60-70 more friends and extended family in the stands. New Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie visited with the group for much of the evening in between time spent at the Lightning's draft table.
One thing the league should look at, in my opinion, is speeding up the first round. I realize it's the biggest moment in a lot of people's lives, but four hours for 30 picks? Uncle! Also, the fact the building's wireless internet was down for the first few hours didn't help the moods of any of the assembled team staffs and media.
All seems quiet for the Lightning on the trade front, though there were a few big deals yesterday. It certainly will be nice to face the Panthers without Olli Jokinen in their lineup.
Things get going at 10 a.m. Today for rounds 2-7, with the Bolts holding the first pick in the third round.