Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: MHL Defensemen

The 2022 NHL Draft is fast approaching. The Tampa Bay Lightning are playing 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 late 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: MHL Defensemen

The Lightning, since 2010 when Al Murray became their director of amateur scouting and Julien BriseBois became assistant general manager, have drafted 29 defensemen. Out of those 29, four of them came from the MHL. That’s the fourth-most defensemen taken in one league by the Lightning. The average height and weight of those MHL draftees are 6’3” and 211 pounds. 

Other averages include 54 games played pre-draft in the MHL, along with six goals, 13 assists and 19 points. The most games played amongst Lightning MHL draftees is Daniil Pylenkov (115) and the least belongs to Oleg Sosunov (three). Meanwhile, the most goals is 10 from Nikita Nesterov, while the least is zero from Sosunov. As for assists, the most belongs to Pylenkov with 29, and Sosunov has the least with zero. Finally, for points, Pylenkov had 35 points and Sosunov had zero, as the most and least out of the bunch. With those parameters set, let’s see who is a Lightning prototype. (Also looked at to find fits is league per game stats and world juniors performance.)

Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Fit #1: Arseni Koromyslov, Defenseman, SKA-1946

The best fit in the MHL class and second-best amongst all defensemen looked at, Koromyslov is ranked to go anywhere from 61st (Craig Button) and 127th (Draft Prospects Hockey). However, with the things going on over in Russia, it’s likely most, if not all, Russian prospects ranked outside the first round fall a long way down draft boards. That said, he could be had late in the draft, if the Lightning are willing. 

If drafted by the Lightning, he would set new highs in MHL games played, assists, and points. He would be above average in height (6’3”, taller than the average by one centimeter), MHL goals, assists per game and points per game, as well as World Juniors games played, goals, assists and points. What holds him back from being the top fit amongst all defensemen is the fact he is below average in MHL goals per game, along with setting a new low in weight (181). 

What Does Koromyslov Bring To The Table?

Koromyslov is a solid skater, and at his size, that’s good news. He isn’t the fastest or the most agile, but he is smooth on his feet and has the confidence to take advantage. That’s especially seen in his transitional abilities. Adding to his skating and confidence, Koromyslov also possesses a strong passing ability, which gives him multiple opportunities when moving the puck up the ice. That puck moving ability, though not his biggest strength, is extremely important for a defenseman to possess. His biggest strength is his ability to defend the rush. He uses his 6’3” frame and long reach to break up passing lanes and entry opportunities. Koromyslov’s big frame is also used to physically break up plays with a shoulder check. His confidence is also apparent in the way he is not afraid to attack the dirty areas for a puck battle. 

The downside for Koromyslov is his offense. While there have been moments where he will make a play and attack at high-danger, it is few and far between. When not attacking high-danger, his shot does not pose a threat and he doesn’t push the pace with his passing. That said, his offensive upside is not necessarily there, which limits his overall ceiling. However, his transitional abilities and shut down tendencies, if translated to the next level, is valuable enough to take a swing on in the mid-to-late rounds. 

Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Fit #2: Artyom Duda, Defenseman, Krasnaya

Duda is the second-best fit in the MHL, and the third-best among all defenders in the class. He is projected to go between 47th (The Puck Authority) and 81st (Draft Prospects Hockey). That’s coming off a season that is extremely rare for MHL defensemen to accomplish; a ton of points. He recorded 14 goals and 27 assists for 41 points in 52 games, and was one of just three defensemen who finished top-100 in MHL scoring. 

If drafted by the Lightning, he would set new highs in MHL goals, assists, points assists per game, and points per game. He also would be above average in MHL games played and goals per game, as well as World Juniors games played and goals. Duda is held from being the top fit due to being below average in height (6’1”), and World Juniors assists, while also setting a new low in weight (181).

What Does Duda Bring To The Table

Duda is so much fun to watch. He is a very good skater, and though he may not be the fastest, he is smooth and deceptive. Paired with his stickhandling, he can be slippery with the puck. In the offensive zone, he is well-balanced, with his shot sticking out more than his passing, which is solid in its own right. He loves shooting the puck, and he can score from anywhere. Duda also sets up chances off his shot by generating rebounds and keeping shots low for deflection opportunities. He’s also not afraid to push the pace with his passing if he doesn’t have a good shooting lane. Transitionally, he can stretch the ice with long and accurate passes setting up rush chances. But he also knows how to play it smart and simple, with the ability to hit teammates in stride for a short pass through the neutral zone. 

Despite his transitional and offensive zone play, Duda needs work, specifically in his own end. Despite having a very similar frame as Koromyslov, Duda gets out-muscled in the net-front and in the corners. He even shies away from battles at times, tending to stay close but not getting involved along the wall. While in the Russian junior league that won’t hurt his team too badly. However, he will get eaten alive at the KHL level, and even more so at the AHL and NHL levels. That said, he desperately needs to bulk up and be more confident in his physical abilities and strength. Otherwise, he may never be given a shot at the NHL level.