Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

6. Pavel Kubina

Draft Year: 1996

Position: Defense

The Tampa Bay Lightning has seen a lot of defensive talent throughout the course of their 23 year history, but one of the few players whose names would continue to echo through the hallowed halls of the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room throughout the years would be former Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina.

While Kubina was not exactly the offensively minded defenseman that Roman Hamrlik, who came before him, or Victor Hedman, who came much further down the road, would become, Kubina definitely made an impact here in the nine and a half overall seasons he would play here in the Sunshine State and helped paved the way for the Lightning stars of the future.

Pavel Kubina made his debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 14, 1998 against the Chicago Blackhawks. In his debut season, Kubina would only play in 10 games with the Bolts. Not to be left off the score sheet, Kuby would bring home one goal and two assists for a total of three points.

After helping the Tampa Bay Lightning build a foundation for the future for the next five seasons, Kuby would find himself on the threshold of one of the greatest achievements a player in the National Hockey League can ever achieve. In the 2003-04 season, Pavel Kubina played in 81 games with the Bolts where he would score a then-career high 17 goals and 18 assists for a total of 35 points.

As most fans here in the Bolts Nation know all-too-well, this is not the only achievement Kubina achieved in the 2003-04 season. Kubina played in 22 games in the post season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition to his defensive prowess, which proved to be vital to the Lightning’s success that season, Kuby brought home four assists. When all was said and done, the Tampa Bay Lightning would win their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship.

Kubina would continue on with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the post-lockout 2005-06 season, bringing home a new career-high points total with five goals and 33 assists. Unfortunately, before the next season would kick into gear, Kubina would leave the team who initially drafted him 10 years ago and become a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After three seasons with the Maple Leafs where he would once again raise the bar on his career-high stats, Kubina would make his way to the then-Atlanta Thrashers. After representing his native Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Kubina would make his return to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Kubina would help forge a new path of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010-11 season. The Tampa Bay Lightning would come within 1 game of defeating the Boston Bruins and becoming the Eastern Conference Champions. This was the most successful season the Tampa Bay Lightning experienced since the 2003-04 season when they captured the Stanley Cup.

While Pavel Kubina may not have finished his career as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was an enormous part of franchise history, paving the way for many great defensemen to come, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning reach new heights, and being an integral part of two of the most successful seasons the Lightning have ever seen.

Next: The Traveling Captain