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 stars like Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point being picked outside the first round. With the draft fast approaching, who is a Tampa Bay Lightning draft fit?
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Defence-Only Mock Draft
After doing a mock draft looking at Tampa Bay Lightning draft fits for forwards only, Last Word is now focusing on the blueline. Who do they take at each of their selections? Using Draft Prospects Hockey’s mock draft simulator, with Bob McKenzie’s rankings as the draft board.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: 31st Overall Pick: Kevin Korchinski, Left Defence, Seattle Thunderbirds
With their first pick in the draft, the Lightning scooped up Korchinski. The 6’2” 185-pound defenseman had a -0.5 draft fit score which, while not positive, was one of the top fits within that range. Coming off a 65-point season in 67 games, Korchinski not only has decent size but a strong skill set as well.
Kevin Korchinski is a man in demand. As @markhmasters writes, NHL teams have been lining up to talk to the draft-eligible defenceman since the Seattle Thunderbirds got eliminated in @TheWHL final: https://t.co/03WFisvpaR#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/jwXvOaC490
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) June 27, 2022
When it comes to his skill set, Korchinski is a really good backwards skater, who possesses excellent edge work and decent short-area burst. Offensively, Korchinski excels as a playmaker. He activates play from the point, is willing and able to jump up in the play consistently and effectively. His shot features good power from the point, but he needs to work on his accuracy to be more effective. Transitionally, he is extremely effective and relied on quite often by the Thunderbirds to move up the ice. Defensively, Korchinski is decent, with strong positioning and a decent stick. However, he struggles to defend the rush. Overall, Korchinski projects as a puck-moving, offensively-leaning defender with decent defensive zone abilities. He likely winds up as a top-four defender with power play upside.
102nd Overall: Daniil Orlov, Left Defence, Sakhalinskiye Akuly
After a long wait, the Lightning have their second selection. In round four, they take a Russian defender in Orlov. Orlov had a draft fit score of +1.0, making him a positive fit. Orlov is coming off a season where he scored 30 points in 54 MHL games. For a defender, that is a very solid stat line. Standing at 6’2” and 181 pounds, Orlov possesses good size and is a really good skater. What else does he bring to the table?
Orlov’s excellent skating is shown in his four-way mobility and how he uses that mobility to defend. Especially how well he defends the rush. It’s difficult for forwards to gain a controlled entry when attacking Orlov’s side of the ice. Offensively, Orlov needs work. While he isn’t necessarily bad, as seen with his production, he seems to move a little too fast. For example, if a forward is pressured and makes a quick pass to him, he doesn’t always settle the puck and pick up his head. He tends to just quickly send it away to someone else. His shot also leaves a lot to be desired. Transitionally, he can make good passes up ice, but it is inconsistent with that tendency to make one quick read instead of scanning the ice. That can be improved with maturity and experience, but it is something to keep in mind when he transitions to smaller North American ice. He projects to be a bottom-four defender, with penalty kill upside.
159th Overall: Graham Sward, Left Defence, Spokane Chiefs
Sward posted a draft fit score of +1.5. After posting 43 points in 57 games in the WHL, the 6’2” defender is another good late-round get for the Lightning. Sward is a really good skater both ways, along with having really strong edge work. Offensively, his best trait is the power behind his shot. Other than that, he doesn’t really push the pace a whole lot and does not have a lot of creativity in his game. Transitionally, he isn’t great. That is not a good thing in today’s game. So much value is put on the puck-moving abilities of a defender, and he simply does not have that. However, he makes up for it with his sound defensive abilities. With a few more years of development in Juniors, the hope is he can round out his offensive and transitional games. If he does, he could be a solid get. But this is a pick that is banked on future development.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Round Six Picks
At 168th overall, the Lightning take Christian Kyrou, a right-handed defender from the Erie Otters. He potted 60 points in 68 games in the OHL and was a negative fit at -1.5. While negative, it was not negative by much and, like Korchinski, was one of the best available fits. Kyrou is an excellent offensive player from the blueline. His skating ability and creativity allows him to create space for himself to make plays. He’s also got a knack for setting up rebound goals. His defensive game needs work, and he needs to bulk up to play at the next level.
At 191st overall, the Lightning took the top QMJHL fit in David Spacek, a right defenseman from the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Spacek is similar to Orlov in a lot of ways. Spacek is smarter with the puck, but not quite as much of a difference-maker in his own end. He is certainly strong defensively, but he has better offensive upside than Orlov. This is a solid get this late in the draft.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Round Seven Picks
At 222nd overall, the Lightning pick Rodwin Dionicio, who stands at 6’2” and 207 pounds. Scoring 31 points in 57 games played with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs. This writer did not watch Dionicio himself, therefore, here’s what Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers wrote on the big, physical defender: “Dionicio can lead the attack from transition, he handles the puck extremely well, he sees the ice well, and he can make plays… But something is lacking. Dionicio lacks speed… But it’s just not the speed he needs to work on. His pivots from forward to backward skating needs improving, as does his east-west mobility – or his lateral movement.” An intriguing upside, paired with a very physical edge, that has a massive hole that needs a lot of work to get to the next level? Sounds like the perfect seventh-rounder.
At 223rd overall, the Lightning take Kasper Larsen of the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads. Standing at 6’6” and 231 pounds, Larsen scored 43 points in 57 games, a solid stat line. Another player that this writer did not watch personally, Ryan Cowley of BVM Sports had some good words for the big defender. In summation, Cowley praised Larsen’s physical play and discipline, as he is able to land heavy hits without taking many penalties. Additionally, it was said Larsen had outstanding stickhandling ability but needs to work more on a puck-possession game. That tends to mean he tries too much on his own and needs to utilize his teammates more. Finally, he has a powerful shot but needs to work on accuracy. Another solid with their final selection.