Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

17 of 31

Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

15. Paul Mara

Draft Year: 1997

Position: Defense

Paul Mara was a big, mobile six-foot four-inch tall, 207 pound defenseman the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted in the First Round with the Seventh Overall pick of the 1997 National Hockey League Entry Draft and would look to be one of the key pieces of the organization’s blue line for many years to come.

The Ridgewood, New Jersey native was known for his outstanding defense and offensive abilities in his time in Canadian Junior with the Plymouth Whalers and Sudbury Wolves. He had his best junior season during the year he was draft eligible, scoring 54 points in 52 games to go along with his 95 penalty minutes

Mara would play 101 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 14 goals and putting up 26 assists for a total of 40 points. He didn’t turn into the franchise defenseman the Lightning organization thought he would become when they originally drafted him with the Seventh Overall selection, but he still turned out solid ice time as a top-four defenseman during his time here in the Sunshine State.

Though his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning could have been longer, Mara still goes down as one of the top American born defenseman in Lightning history. It was early in his career and he would experience most of his offensive success later on in his career with the then Phoenix Coyotes, but his rugged defensive style will always be remembered in the Bolts Nation.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Up For A Champion