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The Third Overall Pick: Historically a Good One

by Turner Batten / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who own the third overall pick in this year’s NHL draft, hope that history will be on their side with regards to what the third pick has produced through the years.

Twice since Tampa Bay entered the NHL in 1992 have the Lightning possessed the third overall pick, once in 1993 and then again in 2001.

In 2001 the Lightning chose Russian center Alexander Svitov who was a big body that brought a physical presence. Svitov never quite panned out in the NHL after making his debut with the Lightning during the 2002-03 season.

The Russian appeared in 179 games with Tampa Bay and the Columbus Blue Jackets accumulating a mere 13 goals and 24 assists along with 223 penalty minutes.

Twice since Tampa Bay entered the NHL in 1992 have the Lightning possessed the third overall pick, once in 1993 and then again in 2001.

Chris Gratton, drafted third overall in 1993, developed into a solid NHL player. The 6-foot-4 Canadian played eight seasons for the Lightning and served as the team’s captain in the 1999-00 campaign. His best NHL season came with the Lightning in 1996-97, when he amassed 30 goals, 62 points and 201 penalty minutes as he appeared in all 82 games for the Lightning during that year.

The third pick has produced a plethora of talent in recent years including 2013 Calder Trophy candidate Jonathan Huberdeau.

The pick has produced multiple Olympic Gold Medal winners such as Henrik Sedin and Jonathan Toews.

Toews also brought home a Conn Smythe Trophy as he captained the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship.

Kyle Turris and Marion Gaborik have also made for house-hold names coming out of the draft’s number three slot.

Going back even further, the third pick has produced Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductees Pat Lafontaine and Denis Savard as well as Conn Smythe-winner Reggie Leach.

In the 1991 draft the New Jersey Devils used the third pick on defenseman Scott Niedermayer who turned into a very decorated player not only with the Devils and the Anaheim Ducks, but also with Team Canada as well. Niedermayer won four Stanley Cups and two Gold Medals. Individually, the defenseman was a Norris and a Conn Smythe Trophy winner to go along with multiple all-star selections.

Oh yeah, let us not forget that arguably the greatest athlete of all-time was drafted third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. His name is Michael Jordan.

So will Tampa Bay draft a future NHL award winner or All-Star? All the signs say that is a high possibility and there are 27 other teams who would love to be in the Lightning’s position. Either way watching this year’s draft pan-out with all the talent should be very interesting.

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