Photo: Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis had a strong rookie season in the AHL, winning 18 of 35 starts while posting a 2.68 goals against average. Gudlevkis also represented Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympics. (courtesy of Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have steadily built a strong group of prospects since the arrival of general manager Steve Yzerman in 2010. This season, their patience paid dividends as they made a surprising playoff appearance. Several prospects – Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio – made key contributions and earned regular NHL roles.
Photo: Finnish forward Henri Ikonen is in the midst of a breakout season with the Kingston Frontenacs. The 19-year-old has 11 goals and 24 assists through 22 games. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
In recent years the Tampa Bay Lightning have shown a willingness to select players from a variety of leagues. Their prospect pool consists of a group of talented Europeans, intriguing NCAA players, and – because most of their recent CHL selections have turned pro – just six players playing junior hockey.
Photo: Richard Panik (left), Tyler Johnson (center), and Alex Killorn (right) have been a crucial component of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s success in the 2013-14 NHL season. (courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMI)
Armed with one of the top prospect pools in all of the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning are starting to reap the rewards of good drafting, particularly in the mid-rounds. In the past few years they have added high-ceiling players like Jonathan Drouin and Andrey Vasilevskiy in the first round, whom have been complemented nicely with former mid-round selections like Ondrej Palat, Radko Gudas, and Alex Killorn.
Photo: Drafted 40th overall in 2012, defenseman Dylan Blujus brings a combination of size, physicality, and offensive ability to the Tampa blue line. (Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman addressed the short term needs of his team with his first three picks, selecting two defenders and a goaltender. True to form for the third year Lightning GM, there was no shying away from riskier picks and the "KHL factor" was largely ignored.