Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: QMJHL 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: QMJHL 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, two of them came from the QMJHL. That’s the fifth-most defensemen taken in one league by the Lightning. The average height and weight of those QMJHL draftees are 5’11” and 195 pounds. 

The average number of games played is roughly 62 pre-draft games, scoring 10 goals and 28 assists for 38 points. The most games played is 63 for Adam Janosick, while the least is 62 for Radim Salda. As for the most goals, assists and points, they belong to Salda with 10, 31 and 41, respectively. Meanwhile, the least amount of goals, assists and points belongs to Janosick with nine, 26 and 35, respectively. With those parameters set, which QMJHL defenders are fits? (Also looked at to find fits is league per game stats and world juniors performance.)

Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Fit #1: Tristan Luneau, Defenseman, Gatineau

The best fit in the QMJHL is Luneau, who is ranked anywhere from 21st (Bob McKenzie) and 71st (Smaht Scouting). That puts him in the mix for Tampa Bay’s first-round selection. Coming off of a 43-point season in 63 games, Luneau has slid down draft rankings all season, for right or wrong. 

If drafted by the Lightning, Luneau would set new highs in height (6’2”), QMJHL games played, goals, assists, points, goals per game, and points per game. He would also be above average in QMJHL assists per game. What holds him back from being a bigger fit is the fact that he is below average in weight (190) and the fact that he did not play in the World Juniors. 

What Does Luneau Bring To The Table?

Luneau is a good skater, with really good straight line speed. Offensively, he possesses strong vision and playmaking abilities, which gives him a projection to be a facilitator and pace-pusher from the point. He is also very creative and confident with his puck skills, and can flash strong stickhandling to not only get deeper in the offensive zone, but to also create more passing and shooting lanes. Transitionally, he does an excellent job stretching the ice and can, at times, be effective setting up chances for forwards off the rush. His strongest suit is his defensive game. Luneau’s positioning is superb, and he possesses an active stick to disrupt passing and shooting lanes. When it comes to defending the rush, Luneau excels. 

However, Luneau is not a perfect prospect. His skating needs some work, especially with his acceleration. As a defenseman, especially, he can’t lose short-area races at the next level. Additionally, if he’s taking on Connor McDavid skating through the neutral zone, he will struggle to match his speed going backwards, and if he changes speeds and accelerates, he will burn Luneau. Another area Luneau is below average is in his edge work. Those attributes need to be improved if he wants to be an impact NHL defender. Outside of his skating, Luneau possesses a good shot, but fails to get it on net, which hurts how effective his shot could be. Improving that accuracy would go a long way. Overall, Luneau projects to be a second-pair defender with shut down abilities and puck-moving skills. 

Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Fit #2: David Spacek, Defenseman, Krasnaya

Spacek is the second-best fit in the QMJHL, and is ranked anywhere between 92nd (McKeen’s Hockey) and 214th (Draft Prospects Hockey). That said, he is a late-round option for the Lightning if they decide to dip their toes in the QMJHL again. This past season, his first in the QMJHL, he scored 12 goals and 38 assists for 50 points in 57 games played. 

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If drafted by the Lightning, Spacek would set new highs in QMJHL goals, assists, points, goals per game, assists per game, and points per game, as well as World Juniors games played (with Czechia). He was also above average in height (6’0”). What holds him back from being the top fit is the fact he did not score a single point in the World Juniors. He would also set new lows in weight (170) and QMJHL games played.  

What Does Spacek Bring To The Table

Spacek is a very unspectacular prospect, in all the good ways. He plays a very smart, controlled game, with very few mistakes. His game is predicated on shutting down his opponents and keeping plays extended. Spacek’s one-on-one play is fun to watch as, despite his lighter build, he can physically dominate battles. Not only that, but he is really good with his stick to knock players off pucks. His shot from the point is also excellent. 

However, his skating needs work before he can make the jump to the NHL. Not to mention, his transitional ability could be a little bit quicker, at least on occasion, to be more effective at the next level. Offensively, he could be more involved, and that would help him realize the potential he has in that area, as seen in his production this season, especially down the stretch. He is an overage prospect, at 19 years old, and he is closer to being NHL-ready than many of the other defensive prospects in this class.