Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

3. Brad Richards

Draft Year: 1998

Position: Center

When people think about the Tampa Bay Lightning as team, there are three names that generally come to mind; Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and one Brad Richards. The latter of these, a native a Murray Harbour in Prince Edward Island, was originally drafted in the 3rd Round (64th Overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

An interesting little bit of trivia is that Richards was drafted in the same draft class as former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier; a player who had plenty of experience playing with Richards throughout their pre-professional careers as well as their time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s rather ironic their names would be so closely aligned in their professional careers as well.

After being drafted by the Lightning, Richards would spend the first two years of his professional career with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This is the same league that would ultimately produce players like Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin just 14 years later.

Richards would make his Tampa Bay Lightning debut on October 6, 2000 in a matchup with the New York Islanders. In that season, Richards would play in 82 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wasting no time making an impact on the Lightning’s main roster, Richards would score 21 goals and 41 assists for a total of 62 points.

Brad Richard would continue to be a consistent goal scorer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richards seemed to have it all; speed, stamina, puck handling, and a killer shot. It wouldn’t be long before Richards’ impact would start to spread and the rest of the NHL would take notice.

In the coveted 2003-04 season, Brad Richards would set a new career high in goals and overall points, scoring 26 goals and 53 assists for a total of 79 points. Richards’ contributions to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season would not end when the final buzzer sounded to end the regular season.

Adding to his regular season numbers, Richards would score 12 goals and 14 assists in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s journey towards capturing their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship. Richards’ 26 points in the post season would earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy once the Bolts hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Richards would return to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2005-06 season, the season right after the NHL Lockout that followed the Lightning’s Stanley Cup win. If you think what he had to offer in the prior season was amazing, the Bolts Nation had no idea what he had in store for them.

The six foot tall forward would play in all 82 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2005-06 season, scoring 23 goals and a whopping 68 assists for a total of 91 points. This put Richards at fifth place in the NHL in assists and in 12 place in overall points.

Brad Richards would continue to be a consistent source of points for the Tampa Bay Lightning until almost the end of the 2007-08 season when the then-Tampa Bay Lightning management team would make what would come to be known as one of the worst trades in Tampa Bay Lightning history, which sent Brad Richards to the Dallas Stars along with Johan Holmqvist in exchange for Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen and a 2004 fourth-round draft pick.

Brad Richards’ time here in the Bolts Nation may have been cut unceremoniously short by a management team who had no idea what they had in their arsenal, but the one thing that will always be remembered by Tampa Bay Lightning fans is the impact he had on this organization.

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