Due to the relentless efforts of Phil Esposito, we have enjoyed 20 years of hockey in beautiful Tampa Bay. With an NHL franchise, comes the NHL draft, and the excitement and trepidation of a First Round Pick. In a three-part series I will recap the Lightning’s picks from Roman Hamrlik (1992) to Vladislav Namestnikov (2011).
1992 – (1st Overall) Roman Hamrlik : Defense
Tampa Bay’s First Ever Pick
On June 20, 1992 Tampa Bay joined the Ottawa Senators as the newest additions to the NHL. The Bolts, who had the first overall pick, drafted Defenseman Roman Hamrlik to beef up their blueline. A big D-man with a knack for contributing offensively. Hamrlik would go on to play six seasons with the Lightning. In his last season, 1997-98, Hamrlik (along with Paul Comrie) was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Jason Bonsignore, Bryan Marchment, and Steve Kelly. Hamrlik still holds the Lightning Franchise record for most points scored by a Defensman with 65 in 1995-96. He continues to play at the NHL level today with the Washington Capitals.
Stats while with TBL: 377GP : 52G : 133A : +/- -124
1993 – (3rd Overall) Chris Gratton : Center
The following year the NHL entry draft was held in Quebec City and with their third pick the Lightning selected Center Chris Gratton, a former OHL Rookie Of The Year. Gratton would go on to play seven total seasons with the Bolts over his 16 year NHL career. He would go to serve as Team Captain during the 1999-2000 campaign, during which he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. He retired in 2009 having last played with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Stats while with TBL: 694GP : 98G : 161A : 259Pts
1994 – (8th Overall) Jason Wiemer : Center
A big center from British Columbia would be the Bolts’ First Rounder in 1994. He would go on to play four seasons for the Lightning before being traded to Calgary for Sandy McCarthy, a 3rd Round, and 5th Round pick in the 1998 draft. That 3rd round pick from this trade brought Brad Richards to Tampa Bay, Wiemer’s greatest “contribution” to this team. Wiemer last played in the NHL with the New Jersey Devlis during the 2005-06 season.
Stats while with TBL: 232GP : 27G : 27A : 54Pts
1995 – (5th Overall) Daymond Langkow : Center
A former Bob Clarke Trophy (Top Scorer, 1994-95) recipient with the Tri-City Americans, Langkow notched 15 goals and 28 points in his rookie season (1996-97) with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That campaign was his best effort in the four seasons he spent in the Bay Area. Having refused a demotion to the American League after the 1997-98 season, he was suspended by the team for seven games before being recalled again by the Bolts. He would eventually be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers (with Mikael Renberg) for former Bolt Chris Gratton and Mike Sillinger.
Stats while with TBL: 173GP : 27G : 34A : 61Pts
1996 – (16th Overall) Mario Larocque : Defense
After being drafted in 1996 Larocque finally made his NHL debut during the 1998-99 season. His NHL tenure would only last five games though, after which he finished out that year in the IHL. Larocque would never return to the Show.
Stats while with TBL: 5GP : 0G : 0A : 0Pts : 16 PIM
1997 – (7th Overall) Paul Mara : Defense
Mara a 6’4″ blueliner would play in three seasons for the Bolts. During his final season as a Lightning skater, he (with Mike Johnson, Ruslan Zainullin, and a 2nd Rounder) was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Stan Neckar and Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup winning netminder, Nikolai Khabibulin. He would go on to continue playing for the Coyotes, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Anaheim Ducks. He retired after the 2010-11 campaign as a Canadien.
Stats while with TBL: 101GP : 14G : 22A : 36Pts
From 1992 to 1997 concludes the first installment of the recap. Continue to check Bolts By The Bay for the forthcoming recap of first round picks spanning 1998 to 2007.
– Jim Courteau
Follow me on Twitter @BlackSheepJim