Tampa Bay Lightning focus on forward position at 2017 NHL Draft

June 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Cal Foote poses for photos after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
June 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Cal Foote poses for photos after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alexey Lipanov, Center

After drafting one Russian forward, the Lightning chose another one and selected Alexey Lipanov in the third round. Lipanov is listed at 6-foot, 170 pounds and is considered a solid two-way playmaker. Some experts thought his size would limit his draft position, but he ended up being taken in the third round, which is not to be overlooked.

The 17-year-old Moscow native played with Dynamo Balashikha and HK MVD Balashikha last season and notched 11 points in 32 games. With Dynamo, he recorded three points in six playoff games, and in the 2017 U18 World Junior Championships, he captained the Team Russia to a bronze medal and had three assists in seven tournament games. Lipanov is slated to play for the Barrie Colts next season.

According to a scouting report from The Hockey Writers,

"“A fast skater with a very good hockey head and visible determination, Lipanov is a good offensive prospect with some defensive awareness. Lipanov is a player who can be useful in any situation, but of course the highlight of his game is represented by his offensive ability. While he’ll need to work on his defensive game, he is not a one-dimensional player. Should also be working on the physical side, but he is fast and agile enough to escape the bigger guys. A great eye for the pass and a good shot make him a strong offensive weapon.”"

BoltProspects lists Lipanov strenghts, saying, “Smart, high-IQ two-way player who plays a complete 200 foot game. Good skater with the above average skill-set you might expect from a classic Russian forward. Can play both center and wing effectively, giving his club some versatility.”

His weaknesses are understandable, as the same report says, “Somewhat undersized, and needs to grow and get stronger. As a consequence, can play a little bit of a soft, perimeter game at times.”

If he rounds out his overall game and finds his way to the NHL, Lipanov is projected as a potential second or third line forward with comparable skills to current Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino.