Lightning 2005 draft preview

By Cameron Fraser

Lightning Top 10 Prospects

1. Mike Egener, D
2. Adam Henrich, LW
3. Andy Rogers, D
4. Alexander Polushin, RW
5. Darren Reid, RW
6. Matt Smaby, D
7. Doug O’Brien, D
8. Gerard Dicaire, D
9. Evgeni Artukhin, RW
10. Andreas Holmqvist, D

The announcement that the Tampa Bay Lightning had the 30th overall pick in this upcoming draft was a double blow to the future of the organization. Not only did they not pick at the top, they also lost the benefit of the snaking aspect of this draft, having traded their second round pick, which would have been 31st overall, to Anaheim in a trade that brought back Vaclav Prospal.

Team Needs

The reigning 2004 Stanley Cup champions return to a new era of the NHL that will fit them very well. The big club itself will have some trouble keeping everyone, but look for the return of the bulk of the offense.

If Nikolai Khabibulin does not return between the pipes for the Lightning come October, the Lightning will need to sign a free agent, either as a replacement for Khabibulin or as a backup for John Grahame.

Organizational Strengths

The Lightning have little strength in their prospect pool. They have a large group of potential NHL defensemen that are large and mobile in players like Mike Egener, Andy Rogers, Matt Smaby, Doug O’Brien, and Andreas Holmqvist. Tampa also boasts a slew of very large wingers that have some offensive ability to bring to the table, best represented by left-winger Adam Henrich and right-wingers Alexander Polushin, Darren Reid, and Evgeni Artukhin who are all listed over 6’2.

Organizational Weaknesses

Putting aside the need for a top defensive prospect, as the Lightning have many “project” defensemen, the Lightning have future weaknesses everywhere. The club has substantial size on the wings, but scoring ability is lacking all over the ice. Their pool of centers is dismal and is mostly built of smaller, gritty, centers.

Goaltending is the biggest problem upcoming for Tampa. They have several netminders in the stable including Gerald Coleman, Jonathan Boutin, and Brian Eklund, but there is a no proven, skilled, young, goaltender that could step into the NHL in the foreseeable future.

Draft Tendencies

Tampa Bay tends to draft large bodies, shown by previous first round selections Andy Rogers (2004), Alexander Svitov (2001), Nikita Alexeev, (2000), Vincent Lecavalier (1998), Paul Mara (1997) who are all listed at 6’4.

The team also tends to shy away from the Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Finland, until later rounds, and rarely selects from the Czech Republic or Slovakia, putting a high emphasis on Russian, Canadian and American players, especially in the first round.

Having traded their third round pick to Philadelphia, the Lightning have just five selections in the 2005 draft.

Player most likely to be taken with first selection (Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result): Alexandre Vincent, G, Chicoutimi Saguenéens

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