Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

1. Vincent Lecavalier

Draft Year: 1998

Position: Center

There is one name, and one name alone, that sticks out among all the rest when someone makes a reference to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That name belongs to one of the most beloved players in Tampa Bay Lightning history, former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier.

The impact the young Quebec native had on the Tampa Bay Lightning and the community at large is still being felt to this very day. Before we get into his contributions on the ice, let’s talk for a moment about the contributions the former Lightning captain has made off the ice.

Cancer is probably one of the most horrific diseases a person can be diagnosed with. The disease slowly eats away at you until it takes away not only your health and quality of life, but in some cases your dignity as well. This is especially difficult when a young child has to endure this debilitating disease. This is where Vincent Lecavalier comes in.

Vinny Lecavalier raised over $3 million dollars, all of which was donated to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. This allowed All Children’s to build a new floor to the hospital, which would be called the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

The creation of this floor made a place where children and their families could not only receive the quality care they so desperately need, but also giving them a place where, even if only for a little while, could put aside their troubles and find a way to smile amidst all the darkness in their lives. If ever there was a person who should be honored as one of the Lightning’s Community Heroes, it was Vincent Lecavalier.

It just so happens the powers that be in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization agreed on that matter. When Vincent Lecavalier made his first trip back to Amalie Arena after becoming a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Lightning Foundation honored him as one of the Lightning’s Community Heroes.

Much like his friend and former teammate Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier was originally drafted in the First Round (First Overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The very next season, Lecavalier would find himself on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s main roster and ready to start building the foundation to his legacy here in Tampa Bay.

While his first season with the Tampa Bay Lightning may have been a slow one, the next season Lecavalier hit the ice with a fire in his soul which allowed him to reach new heights in his on-ice game. In the 80 games Lecavalier played with the Bolts in the 1999-00 season, Vinny scored 25 goals and 42 assists for a total of 67 points. This was a new career-high for the then-twenty year old Lightning forward.

During his second season with the team, Vincent Lecavalier would be named captain of the young Tampa Bay Lightning team. This made his the youngest captain in NHL history at the time. Unfortunately, his run as team captain would only last one season before he was stripped of the “C”, which would go to former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk in the 2002-03 season.

One season later, Lecavalier would prove he was still very much an asset to the Tampa Bay Lightning roster. Most Lightning fans will remember the 2003-04 season with a heartfelt excitement which still courses through our veins today. It was the 2003-04 season when the Tampa Bay Lightning would capture their first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history.

Leading up to the post season, Lecavalier would score 32 goals and 34 assists for a total of 66 points. Vinny’s contributions did not end with the regular season. Vinny played in a total of 23 games with the Lightning during the post season. In that amount of time, Vinny scored nine goals and seven assists for a total of 16 points.

Just two seasons after tasting Stanley Cup victory, Lecavalier would set a new career-high. In the 2006-07 season, Lecavalier would score a whopping 52 goals and 56 assists for a total of 108 points. Lecavalier’s 52 goals that season would earn him the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the 2007 NHL Awards.

Vincent Lecavalier would be a consistent goal scorer and dependable playmaker for the Tampa Bay Lightning for the next four seasons before a number of nagging injuries would sideline him for a good portion of the season. In the 2012-13 season, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman would execute the team’s compliance buyout to end the contract of the longtime Lightning forward.

Lecavalier’s 14 year history with the Tampa Bay Lightning would officially come to an end. The good news is, this wasn’t the end of the road for Lecavalier. Just one week later, Lecavalier would sign a new deal and find a new place to call home with the Philadelphia Flyers.

There is no denying Vincent Lecavalier’s time with the Tampa Bay Lightning did not come to the ceremonial end it should have, and he may never have his parade through Downtown Tampa celebrating his legacy, but the time Vincent Lecavalier spent here in the Bolts Nation made a serious impact on both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the people in and around the Bolts Nation. This, right here, is why we here at Bolts By The Bay believe Vincent Lecavalier is the best draft pick in franchise history.