The NHL Draft is today, and the only drama for the Tampa Bay Lightning is whether they will trade Ross Colton to get back draft picks ahead of the free agent market opening up.
And while as it stands now Tampa does not have a first-round pick, and won’t have one for the foreseeable future, it is the price the Bolts had to pay to achieve its recent success.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Sitting this one out
As a result of of a number of trades the Lightning have made, Tampa doesn’t get to pick until the 6th round of this years’ draft:
- First Round – Traded to Chicago to acquire Brandon Hagel
- Second Round – Traded to Chicago so they would take Tyler Johnson
- Third Round – Traded to Nashville for Tanner Jeannot
- Fourth Round – Also traded to Nashville in the Tanner Jeannot deal
- Fifth Round – Hey, you guessed it, traded to Nashville for Tanner Jeannot
On top of not having draft picks this year, Tampa won’t have their first-round or second-round pick in 2024 (Hagel and Jeannot), as well as not having a first-round pick in 2025 (Jeannot).
As it stands now, from 2020 to 2025, the Lightning will have only drafted in the first round once.
And while we have chronicled here at Bolts by the Bay that eventually the lack of draft picks, combined with an aging roster, will eventually catch up to Tampa, the Lightning is out of draft picks because that’s what was required to get over the hump.
Look back at what it took to acquire Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, the two players most credited with giving Tampa the grit needed to finally navigate the playoffs.
Because Tampa was able to offload Tyler Johnson’s contract for the price of a second-round pick, it gave the Bolts much-needed cap flexibility to keep the rest of the band together for 2022.
And while the Tanner Jeannot trade is still to be determined whether it was a flop or a success, Brandon Hagel appears to be a key cog for the Tampa Bay Lightning moving forward, and most would say the draft capital sent away to acquire him was worth it if he can string together 30 goal seasons.
So it might be a quiet night at the NHL Draft for the Lightning.
That’s just the price of victory in the modern NHL.