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2022 NHL Draft Tampa Bay Lightning Fits: OHL Forwards

2022 NHL Draft

The 2022 NHL Draft is fast approaching. The Tampa Bay Lightning, preparing to play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers, elected to keep their first-round draft selection for the first time in what seems like forever. So, while they likely aren’t focusing too much on the draft, Last Word will look at some Lightning draft prototypes in a new series. 

Tampa Bay Lightning 2022 NHL Draft Fits: OHL Forwards

The Lightning, since 2010 when Julien BriseBois became an assistant general manager and Al Murray joined the organization, have drafted 10 forwards from the OHL. That’s the second-most of all the leagues they have drafted from. The average of those players is roughly 6’0” and 195 pounds. 

Other averages include roughly 78 OHL games played prior to being drafted, with an average statline of roughly 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points. The highest totals for each statline are as follows: 125 games played, 45 goals, 55 assists and 100 points, all set by Taylor Raddysh. The lowest totals for each statline are as follows: 43 games played, 12 goals, 11 assists, and 28 points. Using those parameters, we found six positive draft fits. (Also taken into consideration for finding draft fits include height, weight, per game stats, and U18 World Juniors performance.)

2022 NHL Draft Fit #1: David Goyette, Center, Sudbury Wolves

The top fit in the OHL is Shane Wright, but let’s be real, the Lightning have less than a 0.1% chance of landing the potential number one pick. That said, the second-best fit for the Lightning is David Goyette. Goyette has ranked anywhere from 19th (Craig Button) to 53rd (Elite Prospects), putting him within realistic reach of the Lightning. 

If drafted by Tampa Bay, Goyette would set a new high of goals per game amongst previously drafted OHL prospects, at 0.5 per game. He also finished above the Lightning OHL average in the following categories: World Juniors games played, goals, assists and points, OHL assists per game and points per game rates, and OHL total goals, assists, and points. What held Goyette back from being closer to Wright is the following: OHL total games played (66) and height (5’11”). He would also set a new low for his weight, as he weighs just 174 pounds. It doesn’t help his case that the Lightning haven’t drafted a player from the Sudbury Wolves organization. 

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What Does Goyette Bring To The Table?

Goyette is certainly on the smaller side, but he plays like he is much bigger. He may not be the most physical, but his motor is noticeable every single game. His skating is also very strong, and he needs just minor work to be an effective skater at the top level moving forward. Offensively, he has the confidence to try anything and everything, showing flashes of high-end skill. Mostly, his skill is shown in his ability to set up teammates, using his high offensive IQ and vision. His shooting is also solid, making him a dual threat, but he does need some more work for that to translate to the next level. 

The downside to his offensive game is that he struggles to find open ice away from the puck. Additionally, he isn’t the most reliable in the defensive zone, as he isn’t the most consistently engaged or positionally sound in that end. It’s also apparent in his transitional game, as he struggles to get the puck out of his own end when the situation to do so arises. He is considered a high-risk, high-reward prospect, as his skating and raw offensive skills are absolutely there. Goyette certainly could be a future top-six player. A lot needs to go right in his development, however, so time will tell. 

2022 NHL Draft Fit #2: Danny Zhilkin, Left Wing, Guelph Storm

Zhilkin is the second-best fit for the Lightning amongst OHL eligibles. He has been ranked anywhere from 31st (Bob McKenzie) to 84th (FCHockey). With the Lightning lacking second and third-round picks, barring a trade, he likely won’t be taken by Tampa, unless he falls to the fourth. He may not be the best first-round selection for Tampa. Regardless, he is a positive fit. 

If taken by Tampa, he would set a new high in OHL games played (126). He finished above average in the following categories: height (6’2”), OHL goals, assists and points, and World Juniors games played, assists and points. Zhilkin finished below average in the following categories: weight (183), OHL goals per game, assists per game and points per game, and World Juniors goals scored. He would not set a new low for Tampa Bay. 

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What Does Zhilkin Bring To The Table?

Zhilkin isn’t a fantastic skater, as his stride looks a bit awkward at times. However, his stride is long and powerful, and he can reach very good top speed. His edges need some work, as do the technical aspects of his skating mechanics, such as knee bend. But that is very doable, and for a taller player, that’s really positive. Offensively, Zhilkin possesses a very good shot, and if he’s given too much time, he will make teams pay. Transitionally, with his size and strong stickhandling, he can be one of the better players on the ice. NHL teams covet players who are good transitionally, like what he has shown. 

However, he lacks a strong playmaking ability in the offensive zone. His vision seems to be very limited, as he almost exclusively looks to shoot or take the simple pass. He does not push the pace nor gets the puck to teammates in high danger areas very often at all. Additionally, Zhilkin’s defensive game is lacking, as he doesn’t look very engaged and doesn’t possess a very strong active stick. His motor in general is very inconsistent. That effort level away from the puck and in the defensive zone needs to improve. However, he is considered relatively safe, thanks in part to his size, skating and shooting ability. He safely projects as a bottom-six forward, with a middle-six upside. 

Other 2022 NHL Draft Fits Include…

Outside of those top two fits, there are players like Lucas Edmonds, Matyas Sapovaliv, and Servac Petrovsky. All grade out positively. However, they are all later round options for the Lightning or fall within the second or third rounds, where they don’t have a selection. 

Honourable Mentions

Lucas Edmonds

Edmonds is a 21-year-old winger who went undrafted in 2019 and 2020 and has re-entered the fray for 2022. Coming over to the OHL for his rookie year after playing in Sweden, Edmonds recorded 34 goals and 79 assists for 113 points in just 68 games. He would set new highs for Tampa in assists, points, goals per game, assists per game, and points per game. The things holding him back are his height and weight (5’11” and 185 pounds) being below average, his lack of OHL games played, and the fact he did not play in the World Juniors at all. Craig Button ranked Edmonds 79th, but he has been unranked by many sites and experts. He could be an interesting selection for any team in this draft. 

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Matyas Sapovaliv

Sapovaliv is ranked between 30th (Bob McKenzie) and 57th (Dobber Prospects). If drafted by Tampa, he would set a new high in height (6’4”). He was also above average in OHL assists, assists per game, points per game, and World Juniors games played, goals, assists, and points. He’s held back by his weight being below average (190 pounds), OHL games played, goals, points and goals per game. 

Servac Petrovsky

Finally, Petrovsky has been ranked between 74th (Elite Prospects) and 127th (Smaht Scouting), making him a later round prospect. Petrovsky is one of the youngest players, with his birthday being August 10th, 2004. He would set a new high, if drafted by Tampa, in World Juniors games played, assists and points. He would finish above average in OHL goals, points, goals per game, and points per game, as well as World Juniors goals. Petrovsky would set a new low with his weight (174 pounds). He was below average in height (6’0”), OHL games played, assists and assists per game. 

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