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Top Offseason Stories to Watch: Prime Picks For 2012 Draft

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

A great goal scoring ability and unmatched on-ice leadership skills were among the qualities exhibited by Steve Yzerman that proved largely responsible for landing him on the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players in NHL history.

But, it was the way he was able to utilize his own mental acumen and personal set of hockey smarts to acquire goaltender Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators last week that perhaps also puts him in contention for one of the league’s brightest general managers.

Yzerman exchanged two of the Lightning’s second-round draft picks in this weekend’s upcoming draft, as well as a third-round pick in 2013 and goaltender Sebastien Caron in the deal, but still managed to retain the Bolts’ pair of first-round picks at positions 10 and 19. As an added bonus, the Lightning still have at least one, and possibly even two, additional picks in the second round.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman continues to prove undaunted in making major moves as the team inches closer to the June 22-23 NHL Entry Draft.

The move may have cost what Yzerman called “a hefty price,” but nevertheless, served the purpose of filling a position of dire need for the Lightning, while also keeping the team in a strong capacity to cash in big at the first round of the draft on Friday at the same time.

“Acquiring a goaltender was obviously a priority going into this summer, and with all of our draft picks, we never really waivered from our plan,” Yzerman said. “We really wanted to hang on to both of our first-round picks, and fortunately, we were able to do that while at the same time getting a deal done that we can feel good about.”

So with one of, if not the, top priority of the summer’s offseason crossed off the to-do list, where does Yzerman go from here in terms of what to do next to improve the hockey club?

Well, no one really knows, including Yzerman himself.

“I don’t really have any specific direction or idea of what our next move will be,” he added, “but we will continue to look at all of the options and see if any of them make sense for us.”

And that’s where the stockpile of draft picks, even after the Lindback trade, comes into play.

With six netminders now under contract for next season, it appears Yzerman is now dealing from strength at the goaltender position. It doesn’t mean, however, that he will necessarily pass on an attractive goaltending prospect such as Malcolm Subban, but perhaps that now with the team’s goaltending situation a bit more solidified, he will utilize the picks to draft players at other positions such as forward and defense. He could even trade any of the remaining picks for more picks, or even an existing player.

What he will do, of course, remains to be seen, but benefiting the Lightning going into this weekend’s draft is the number of options at his disposal. And sweetening the deal is the peace of mind that comes with already having acquired a highly-coveted bona fide starting goaltender, and still having multiple picks through the first two rounds with which to work.

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