The 2022 NHL Draft is fast approaching. 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, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point were both second-round choices so there is always talent to be found throughout the draft. With the draft fast approaching, who is a Tampa Bay Lightning draft fit?
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Seven-Round Mock Draft
After looking at forward fits, defensemen fits and goalie fits, it’s time for a Lightning-specific seven-round mock draft. Before we get into that, if you haven’t yet, listed below are all the “draft fit” articles.
QMJHL Fits: Forwards and Defence
OHL Fits: Forwards and Defence
WHL Fits: Forwards and Defence
USHL Fits: Forwards and Defence
Russian League Fits: Forwards and Defence
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Trade: Pick #31 and #169 To Arizona Coyotes For Pick #34 and #67
With the inability to trade players in Draft Prospects Hockey’s mock draft simulator, it was a pick swap. The Coyotes have… plenty of draft picks, which is an understatement. They can, and likely will trade up if the opportunity presents itself. For the Lightning, with how bare their prospect cupboard has become, along with no second or third-round picks after their first, they should trade back. Not to mention, this class is built in a way that trading back and raking in more picks is the smarter move.
Had there been an opportunity for a player to be involved, Alex Killorn may have been thrown in. Killorn is likely on the trade block as the Lightning look to keep Ondrej Palat and Nick Paul after their respective performances in the playoffs. Had Killorn been thrown in, the trade likely would have been: Pick 31 and Alex Killorn to the Coyotes for picks 34 and 43.
34th Overall: Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Lane Hutson, Left Defence, USNTDP
With their first pick after trading back, the Lightning take, arguably, the largest swing of the draft. Selecting the undersized Hutson may draw criticisms from many, but the sheer level of talent is tantalizing. If Hutson was about three or four inches taller, he’d be a top-15 or even a top-10 pick. This past season, Hutson scored 10 goals and 53 assists for 63 points in 60 games with the USNTDP, including 32 points in 27 games against USHL competition. He is committed to Boston University for the 2023-24 season.
Hutson is an outstanding defenseman, and it starts with his elite skating ability. While he does need to work on his acceleration to truly be elite at the NHL level, his speed, four-way mobility and stride mechanics are all excellent. Offensively, he needs work on his shot but features high-end IQ and vision via his playmaking ability. He has immense confidence, and he’s willing and able to jump up in the play and stickhandle around opponents to create space for himself and his teammates.
Transitionally, he is one of the best defenders in the class amongst those who were tracked. And perhaps the most underrated part of his game, due to his size, is his defensive zone play. While he likely won’t be as effective moving up the ranks, he more than held his own with the NTDP team. He has the work ethic and IQ to translate his defensive game to be at least average if he can bulk up and grow a bit more. Hutson has elite upside if all things go smoothly in his development.
NEW! @scouching breaks down Lane Hutson USNDP
“It’s been a little while since we profiled an undersized defenseman, and we’ve saved one of the best for last in Lane Hutson of the USA’s Under-18 NTDP team. And hoooooo boy is this a fun little player”https://t.co/4HSXmkz6k7 pic.twitter.com/MIdGmkyyJv
— McKeen’s Hockey (@mckeenshockey) June 23, 2022
67th Overall: Lightning Select Devin Kaplan, Right Wing, USNTDP
With the USHL class housing the most positive fits this year for the Bolts, they dip their toes back there and select another NTDP player. This time, they go in the opposite direction, grabbing a forward who has good size and knows how to use it. Kaplan is 6’3” and 198 pounds and scored 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points with the NTDP.
Kaplan is an average skater, with the biggest concerns lying in his stride mechanics. With NHL-level coaching, that can be ironed out, and he could become an above-average skater at the NHL level. The speed is already there, it’s just a matter of improving the technical aspects to maximize each stride, which will open up his skating to another level. Offensively, he doesn’t have the most upside but plays a very simple game. He limits turnovers and keeps the play alive.
Kaplan does a good job getting into open space for opportunities and he does have a good shot, but his offensive game does leave some left to be desired. Transitionally he is surprisingly efficient, again limiting turnovers and playing a smart game. Not to mention, his work ethic and puck retrieval skills are strong, making him a tough player to deal with when trying to break out. Finally, he plays a full 200-foot game, with a strong positional awareness and a willingness to get involved in board battles. Kaplan is considered more of a safer option, likely becoming a good third-line option in the ilk of a Yanni Gourde-esque player.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Fits: Mid-Round Selections
102nd Overall: Lightning Select Hugo Havelid, Goalie, Linkoping HC J20
With their fourth-round pick, the Lightning elected to go with another goalie. After taking Hugo Alnefelt in 2019, they go back to the Swedish ranks to snag up the undersized Havelid. Havelid stands at just 5’10” and 174 pounds, but he has been the definition of consistency across all levels in Sweden. In LWOH’s goalie fits piece, we delve into his stats over the last few years. After his outstanding performance against Team USA in the 2022 IIHF U18s, Havelid has risen up draft boards, despite his size.
Havelid has won a lot of awards as well. On top of the IIHF U18 gold medal, Havelid has also won the bronze medal in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the award for best goaltender in the J20 Nationell, the J20 SM gold medal, made the U18 World Junior All-Star team, was named the WJC U18’s best goaltender and was named a top-three player on his team. All in a year’s work.
160th Overall: Lightning Select Stephan Halliday, Left Wing, Dubuque Fighting Saints
With their next selection, the Lightning go with the 6’4” and 234-pound Halliday, who is an overage player. This season, Halliday recorded 35 goals and 60 assists for 95 points in 62 USHL games. He is committed to Ohio State for next season. With his size, break-out scoring, and surprisingly good skating, he could be a steal in this draft. Halliday would be a decent option at this stage of the draft and, as mentioned earlier, the Lightning have plenty of fits within the USHL class.
Tampa Bay Lightning Draft: Late Round Fliers
192nd Overall: Lightning Select Pavel Leuka, Center, Omskie Yastreby
With their sixth-round pick, the Lightning take a swing on one of their MHL fits. Leuka, who is an overager, stands at 6’1” and 198 pounds, again possessing good size. This past season, he recorded 27 goals and 20 assists for 47 points in 56 MHL games. He also added three points in 10 VHL games. Leuka is not a projectable player to the NHL level. That’s largely due to the fact that the MHL is a weak league. However, what is projectable is his strongest asset: goal-scoring. He drives the net hard and generates a lot of goals by skating through the slot. If he can continue to score that way through the Russian ranks before potentially coming over to North America, there is a possibility he could be a middle-six goal-scorer.
223rd Overall: Lightning Select Mikey Milne, Winnipeg Ice
This time, the Lightning look to Canada for their seventh-round selection. Milne is coming off a 38-goal, 43-assist, 81-point WHL campaign across 68 games. Milne stands at 5’11” and 185 pounds and is yet another overage player. Milne’s breakout offensive campaign should help him to be selected. He is the type of player the Lightning will covet. He is a high-energy player who does all the little things to help the top players succeed. Milne may never lead his own line at any level. But he plays the kind of game that will open up opportunities for the better players on his line. Milne is a projectable forward and likely carves out a bottom-six complementary role. Strong seventh-round pick.
224th Overall: Lightning Select Ben King, Right Wing, Red Deer Rebels
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Yet again, the Lightning go back to Canada, and even better, back to the WHL. King is the top fit amongst WHL forwards, yes, an even better fit than Milne. He is 6’3” and 201 pounds and is coming off a 52-goal and 105-point campaign across 68 games. King is a complete 200-foot player, who has really taken a big step forward in his shooting and playmaking abilities. His shot especially is lethal, and paired with his ability to drive the slot, is even better. His skating limits him and makes him harder to project at the next level. But his complete game and high-end goal-scoring make him an interesting option. He is also an overager, going undrafted in back-to-back seasons.