Lightning 2022 NHL Draft Primer: Team needs, Russians, Goalies, and more

Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; A general view outside of Bell Centre before the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; A general view outside of Bell Centre before the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

This will be the last time the Tampa Bay Lightning draft in the first round.

Or at least it feels that way after they traded their 2023 and 2024 first round draft picks to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline for Brandon Hagel.

The complete list of draft picks the Lightning own entering tonight and tomorrow’s draft are as follows:

  • 1st Round – 31 overall
  • 4th Round – 103 overall (via CHI)
  • 5th Round – 160 overall
  • 6th Round – 169 overall (via DET)
  • 6th Round – 192 overall
  • 7th Round – 223 overall (via NYR)
  • 7th Round – 224 overall

Here are some quick thoughts for this year’s draft concerning the Lightning:

The team could use a blue-chip offensive forward prospect

Even though the prospect development factory has seemingly been on autopilot for turning second day selections into quality two-way players, the Lightning’s prospect pool needs to be replenished with a true first round talent forward. Whether it be talent shooting the puck or generating chances, an offensive prospect talent of some sort is greatly missed within the ranks of the Lightning’s prospect pipeline.

Just how deprived is the Lightning’s prospect pool of first round forward talent? The last Lightning drafted forward in the first round that played NHL games on the team was Jonathan Drouin (2013 draft). Brett Howden (2016) and Nolan Foote (2019) were forwards taken since Drouin in the first round, but neither lasted long before eventually being traded.

Goalie likely to be taken

Regardless of Andrei Vasilevskiy being the franchise goalie, and a perennial Top 5 finisher in the Vezina voting, the Lightning are likely to draft a goalie this year. They have not gone two consecutive drafts without drafting a goalie this century, and in 2021 they did not draft one.

The only two signed goaltender prospects from this season, Hugo Alnefelt and Amir Miftakhov, had fine rookie seasons with AHL Syracuse and ECHL Orlando, but Miftakhov recently had his contract terminated with the Lightning, and thus only Alnefelt remains.

No goalies are currently projected to go in the first round, or early in the second, so we will be looking towards the later rounds where the Bolts will presumably be looking for someone to slowly develop over the coming years.

NCAA players are a safe bet

Most drafts usually see the Lightning draft two or three college-bound players. While there is not a huge talent difference between where prospects immediately play after being drafted – juniors or college – there is the advantage of being able to retain a college player’s signing rights for four college seasons, as opposed to only two years for players in the CHL.

The college-bound prospects selected in the past three drafts include:

  • 2019: Maxwell Crozier, McKade Webster
  • 2020: Eamon Powell, Nick Capone
  • 2021: Dylan Duke, Alex Gagne, Robert Flinton

Russians potentially falling down the draft order

There are plenty of questions concerning Russian-born prospects at this time given the current situation in the world, but the hesitancy by some teams could lead to opportunities for the Lightning if players fall to them, especially in the first round.

Tampa Bay’s Director of Amateur Scouting, Al Murray, said yesterday that the team has not ruled out taking Russian players.

However, I do wonder if yesterday’s news, or lack thereof, on the current condition and location of Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov may cause several general managers to reconsider their risk-reward views on selecting a Russian-born player.

Three Russian-born names to keep an eye on tonight include: Danila Yurov, Pavel Mintyukov, and Ivan Miroshnichenko. Yurov is a gifted puckhandling left shot RW that should go around 10th under normal circumstances. Mintyukov is a left-shot defensemen without any big gaps in his game that should be drafted around the middle of the first round. And Miroshnichenko is a heavy right shot LW that has fought to overcome a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis earlier this year. He was considered a Top 10 talent this draft before the diagnosis, but medical and international implications could see him fall all the way to the end of the first round.

Additionally, there has been at least one Russian league player selected by the Lightning since 2016. So, we’ll be looking to see if things change this year.