Photo: KalPa Kuopio forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Artturi Lehkonen played on Finland’s top line at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Like Sweden's SHL and the Czech and Slovak Extraligas, Finland's Liiga has been hit hard by the defection of top young players to the KHL for bigger contracts.
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: Forward J.T. Brown is one of several Lightning prospects expected to have a strong 2013-14 season. (courtesy of Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has done his due diligence through the NHL Draft over the past few years. Many of his first round picks, players such as Brett Connolly, Andrey Vasilevskiy, and Jonathan Drouin, all figure to be big components to the Lightning's success in the future. But it is his later-round picks and shrewd free agent signings that could make a more immediate impact for Tampa Bay.
Photo: Forward Jonathan Drouin was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. Drouin finished the 2012-13 season with 41 goals in 49 QMJHL games. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
Hardly any mock drafts had Seth Jones (NAS) slipping past the second overall pick. But when the Florida Panthers chose Aleksander Barkov, it left Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman with an interesting choice to make – improve upon the organization's defensive prospects, or add another highly skilled forward to the mix.
Photo: KalPa Kuopio forward Artturi Lehkonen is expected to eventually bring some offensive skill to the team that drafted him, the Montreal Canadiens (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Forward Aleksander Barkov was the top-ranked prospect among skaters from Europe in the 2013 NHL Draft according to Central Scouting, so his being picked early in the draft did not come as a complete surprise.