Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Chris Gratton

Draft Year: 1993

Position: Center

Before high-powered goal scorers like Steven Stamkos were even lacing up their skates, there were players in the National Hockey League who were paving the way for future generations to come and lighting up the scoreboard. One of those players is former Tampa Bay Lightning center Chris Gratton.

Chris Gratton was originally drafted in the First Round (Third Overall) of the 1993 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Gratton would make his Lightning debut the very next season, and wasted no time in making an impact on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s main roster.

In his first season with the Bolts, the Ontario native would bring home 13 goals and 29 assists for a total of 42 points. If you fast forward just three season, Gratton would set a career-high for goals and overall points. In the 1996-97 Lightning Hockey Season, Gratton would play in 82 games with the Bolts. In that amount of time, he’d bring home 30 goals and 32 assists for a total of 62 points.

Unfortunately, the very next season Gratton would find himself as a Free Agent. Ultimately, he would sign a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers and making his move to the Broad Street Bullies. In his debut season with the Flyers, Gratton would end up tying his career-high point total. Ironically enough, halfway through the very next season Gratton would make his way back to the Tampa Bay Lightning

Just one season after making his return to the Bolts Nation, Chris Gratton would serve as captain of this young Tampa Bay Lightning team, taking the reins from former Lightning captain Bill Houlder, who after just 14 games would make his way to the Nashville Predators.

After a pretty decent season as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s captain, Chris Gratton would be traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Fortunately, this would not be the last time we would see Gratton in a Tampa Bay Lightning sweater. It would be seven more seasons before we would see Chris Gratton back in a Tampa Bay Lightning sweater, but alas he would return to the Bolts Nation one final time.

In the 2007-08 season, Gratton would make his return to the Lightning, playing in 60 games. In that amount of time, Gratton would score 10 goals and 11 assists for a total of 21 points. Unfortunately, this would be the end of Gratton’s return season with the Bolts. On February 28, 2008 it was announced that Gratton would require surgery to repair a tear in his labrum. This would be the end of his season.

Gratton’s injury seemed to spell the beginning of the end for the then-33 year old forward. Just a couple of months into the 2008-09 season, Gratton would be placed on waivers to be sent back to the Lightning’s then-American Hockey League affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. Gratton would be claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 21, 2009; just one week away from the one-year anniversary of his hip surgery.

Chris Gratton would play just six games with the Blue Jackets before he would announce his retirement from the game of hockey.

Gratton’s stay here in the Bolts Nation may have spanned many different seasons and quite a few other teams, but his journey would be incomplete without the eight seasons he spent here in the Sunshine State. As we mentioned before, Gratton’s speed and skill definitely forged a path for players like Steven Stamkos and all others who would come after him, making him one of the greatest draft picks in Tampa Bay Lightning history.

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