With the compliance buyout of long time captain Vincent Lecavalier this off-season, the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to send a message to everyone that the rebuild was in full swing. The Lightning went into training camp with around five to six spots up for grabs for young players, and many on the Top-20 came away with spots for the opening night roster.
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.
If the pre-draft hype is to be believed, 2013 will be a banner year for draft-eligible players coming out of the QMJHL. Not only is the league celebrating their third consecutive Memorial Cup championship, this time led by a pair of draft-eligible Halifax Mooseheads in Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, but as many as eight or nine QMJHL players could be selected in the first round of this year's draft.
The plight of a junior hockey franchise is normally cyclic, with a core group of players starting out, maturing together and competing before eventually graduating from the league.