Well, it’s finally here. This will prove to be one of the most important days in the history of the Lightning franchise, much like the day in 1998 when Vincent Lecavalier joined the organization. It’s the worst kept secret at the draft that Steven Stamkos will join the Lightning tonight. TSN’s even running a feature about the Lightning’s “SeenStamkos?” website and marketing campaign today.
Since it doesn’t look like there’s any way a trade will be made for the top pick, the focus has shifted to Los Angeles in the second spot. Some are speculating that LA’s ownership might want to make a push to win right away, with Ottawa’s Jason Spezza and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau among those “supposedly” available for the right price. Another name that’s being thrown around today is former Lightning D Pavel Kubina, who many thought was going to be traded at the deadline. Supposedly, San Jose wants Kubina.
Another strong rumor that’s popped up is that the Bolts are close to signing Lecavalier to a contract that would ensure he finished his career with the Lightning. I’m sure that news will crush a lot of fans in Montreal who’ve been assuming for the past 10 years that Lecavalier was headed their way any day now.
The final meetings are taking place at the Lightning hotel in Kanata right now, with the amateur scouts finalizing their rankings of the prospects available. With such a strong draft this year, it’s expected that the first pick in the third round will also provide a solid NHL player.
I’ll have a camera on the draft floor this evening, so I’ll try to send some “behind the scenes” shots of what the night holds for the Lightning’s top pick.