The 2022 NHL Draft is fast approaching. The Tampa Bay Lightning are preparing to play in the Finals… again. They elected to keep their first-round draft selection for the first time in what seems like forever. But that hasn’t held them back before, with later round picks like Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. With the draft fast approaching, who is a Tampa Bay Lightning draft fit?
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Forwards-Only 7-Round Mock
After looking at the seven different leagues (QMJHL, WHL, OHL, USHL, Finnish leagues, Russian leagues, and US high school prep) that the Lightning mainly pulled from, this writer did a forward-specific mock draft. Using Draft Prospects Hockey’s mock draft, let’s dive into who was taken.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Round One, Pick 30
With the 30th overall selection, the Lightning selected David Goyette, a center from the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. He recorded a draft pick score of +3.5. That was second-best in the OHL, behind only Shane Wright. Goyette is coming off a season where he recorded 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points in 66 games.
Goyette is a power-forward who plays much bigger than his 5’11” and 174-pound frame suggests. He is a really good skater, with excellent mechanics and the makings of becoming one of the better skaters in the NHL. His shiftiness and top speed is paired really well with his stickhandling and creative confidence. Those traits allow him to be the best player on the ice when he is on. His playmaking is outstanding. Add to his arsenal a really good shot, he has a high offensive ceiling. That’s without mentioning an awesome motor and puck retrieval ability.
However, his consistency, decision-making, defence, and off-puck play need to improve. Could be a future top-six player or possibly never pan out. For a Tampa team with a bare cupboard of prospects, that’s the way to go.
Round Four, Pick 102: Steal Of The Draft
This may be the steal of this mock draft. Cruz Lucius, coming off an injury-riddled season, was available this late? Take him. No hesitation. Lucius, who played just 23 total games with the USNTDP, including 10 in the USHL, scored nine goals and assists for 18 points (seven points in USHL games). That limited sample in his draft year will obviously bring pause. But here’s why he shouldn’t fall this far. (If he does, this is a great situation for Tampa Bay.)
Lucius is a very high upside player. He is not a perfect skater, but with NHL coaching, could become a really good one. Offensively, he is such an intriguing player. He has been lauded for his playmaking this season. His vision, touch, and passing accuracy are really strong, and with his high-end stickhandling, he can be a major threat. But his goal-scoring ability is just as lethal, but far more overlooked. His off-puck movement is exceptional, finding open areas in the slot. If the puck gets to him and he has space, you can bet it hits the back of the net.
It is certainly a risk drafting Lucius. Missing as much hockey and development time could have a bigger impact than it may seem. Additionally, with his skating below average at this point and his high-end, dual-threat offensive abilities tough to truly translate fully, there’s no telling where he could end up. On one hand, he could very well be another top-six player like Goyette. On the other, he may never make it, again like Goyette. But in the fourth round? The Lightning could not have asked for a better option.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Round Five and Six Picks
In round five, the Lightning hold pick 158. They select Nick Mauldenhauer, who was one of our top realistic fits among USHL options. Moldenhauer had a really strong season with the Chicago Steel, at over a point per game rate. But he had a season that can be comparable to Lucius: injury-riddled. Moldenhauer is an excellent skater. He is also reliable in all three zones. He just needs to prove he can be consistent.
The Lightning then have two picks in round six (168 and 190). At 168, Brennan Ali was available. Ali, though he was a minus draft fit (-4.5), it is mostly due to him playing in high school. Ali is a high-motor player with strong raw attributes. He just needs work on being less predictable on offence.
Finally, at pick 190, they took Lucas Edmonds of the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. He is 21-years-old, but the Lightning don’t mind an older prospect (they took Gage Goncalves last year.) He had an outstanding year in the regular season with 113 points in 68 games in his first season in North America. He is such an intriguing player to look at. Edmonds has a well-balanced offensive game and is reliable defensively. Skating needs work. Think Alex Barre-Boulet-esque. He’s close to being NHL-ready with how his game looks, albeit in a bottom-six role.
Round Seven Picks, Solid Late Fliers
With two picks in the seventh round (222 and 223) the Lightning continues with high-upside picks. First, Justin Cote of the QMJHL. He’s very small (5’6” and 163 pounds). That size holds him back from getting to good spots to score, and his strong suit is shooting. He is very difficult to project, especially with skating that isn’t quite good enough. But the Lightning have done excellent things with smaller players and below-average skating (see Point). Not a bad flier here.
With the last Lightning pick, this writer settled on Gabe Klassen of the WHL. Klassen was undrafted last year, so he is an over-age player. His production still hasn’t taken off, with 49 points in 52 games this past year. Like Cote, he is smaller with below-average skating. But his raw skill is there. In fact, Klassen is easier to project, but with less offensive upside. Again, a really good flier in the seventh.
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