NHL Draft 2017: Tampa Bay Lightning could turn draft picks into defensive talent

Feb 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during a press conference to announce that Chicago will host the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during a press conference to announce that Chicago will host the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Lightning have six picks in tonight’s 2017 NHL Draft, and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if the team turns some of these picks into a trade deal for a defenseman.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made it out fairly unscathed on Wednesday night as the Las Vegas Golden Knights made their selections from the other 30 clubs in the National Hockey League. The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft saw Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison, forward prospect Nikita Gusev, and a duo of draft picks make their way to Sin City. Tonight, the team’s attention shifts to the 2017 NHL Draft.

As anyone who has been watching the Bolts since Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman made his way to the Bolts Nation knows, Yzerman has been known to work some sort of strange magic around draft time every season. Whether or not it’s building the Lightning team of the future or searching for the best possible talent for the team, Yzerman always seems to get the job done.

Things are going to be rather interesting for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they head into the draft tonight. As Bolts Jolts mentioned on Twitter earlier, the Lightning’s prospect pool is filled to the brim with terrific talent absolutely chomping at the bit for their opportunity to make their way to the big league and make their impact on the NHL.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Keeping this in mind, the situation presents an interesting opportunity for the Lightning heading into tonight’s festivities. The Lightning has six selections in the 2017 NHL Draft; a first rounder, a second rounder, a third round selection, two picks in the sixth round, and one final pick in the seventh round.

Being completely honest, there is no chance in hockey hell Yzerman is going to trade a first round pick unless a deal presents itself he simply cannot refuse. Unfortunately, these deals don’t exactly manifest themselves every day; especially given the available talent pool this time around.

However, there is a good possibility Steve Yzerman could use a handful of the Lightning’s available picks to strike a deal with one of the other 30 teams in the league to bring a top tier defenseman here to the Bolts Nation. While we have spectacular talents like Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman on the team, the Bolts could certainly use another defenseman on the Hedman-level to help take the Lightning’s game to the next level.

There are quite a few defensive players in need of new contracts this season. Just a few of the names bouncing around the league are Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, former New York Rangers d-man Dan Girardi, Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Let’s be real here, the Lightning would benefit greatly from the skills of someone like Shattenkirk.

All assumptions aside, Steve Yzerman has a proven track record of making magical deals appear out of thin air. They may not always make sense when they are first announced; however, they usually have a way of turning out to be some of the most genius ideas the Bolts Nation has ever seen.

Yzerman will more than likely hold on to his first round pick in order to pick up one of the many talented players looking to make their way into the NHL; however, don’t be surprised if a trade deal hits the floor and a handful of the Lightning’s available picks mysteriously turn into a player the Lightning could use to fill the holes in their defense in the coming season.

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In just a few hours, the mystery will fade into the background and the bigger picture will come into view. We don’t know about you, but we are excited to see what the immediate future holds for the Tampa Bay Lightning. No matter whether the picks are used to develop new talent or make a blockbuster deal, at least for now, we trust in the Yzer-plan.