Victor Hedman is a former first-round pick for the Lightning that has panned out pretty well so far.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are drawing to a close, which can only mean one thing—the NHL draft is coming quickly. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s an opportunity to select a player who can made an immediate impact. With the No. 3 pick, there is a lot of speculation and analysis, but there are some important facts about the top targets for the Bolts.
The Lightning have picked in the top three six times in history. Those selections have brought some big names to Tampa Bay, including Roman Hamrlik, Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
This year, the Lightning have another opportunity to bring in a franchise player. Here are the facts you need to know about the top targets in this year’s draft.
Weight: 205 pounds
Wingspan: 81” (tied for largest in 2013 draft class, Jonathan-Ismael Diaby)
56 Points in 61 Games Last Season
Report from Sabres Edge: "Just a great athlete and built for today's game. He's big, strong, physical, great defensively, has a good stick, makes an excellent first pass out of the zone and plays in all situations. He's the most well-rounded player.” -Phil Housley, who coached Jones on the U.S. world junior team.
Nathan MacKinnon is coming off a dominating performance in the Memorial Cup tournament with the Halifax Mooseheads. He is one of the best forwards in the draft, if not the best.
Weight: 179 pounds
75 points in 45 games (missed time due to knee injury and Team Canada at the World Championships)
Captain of QMJHL champion Halifax
Report from Hockey’sFuture.com: “A blend of speed, skill and desire, MacKinnon is not solely an offensive talent, but instead he's one of the more complete players in his draft class. While he still needs refinement in his defensive game and he'll continue to get stronger on the ice, his speed and willingness to throw the body makes him equally valuable at both ends of the ice. Offensively, he slices through opposing defenses like a hot knife through butter and has a quick release that often finds the back of the net.”
Jonathan Drouin played wing outside of MacKinnon with Halifax and helped lead the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup championship.
Weight: 185 pounds
Had 105 points in 49 games last season with Halifax
Second-lowest body-fat percentage at combine (5.4 percent)
Report from Eliteprospects.com: “An agile forward, Drouin is very creative and a good skater. He is an extremely offensive player with fantastic hands and excellent on-ice-vision. Drouin has a good shot but is best used as a playmaker and is very dangerous on powerplay. Drouin is not a large player or an explosive skater, but he is very agile and able to play his way out of tight spots thanks to his hockey sense.”
Valeri Nichushkin is a Russian center who played for Chelmet and Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League last season. He had six points in 18 regular-season games with Traktor.
Weight: 196 pounds
Wingspan: 78.5” (tied for 10th at combine)
Second-highest rated European Skater (Aleksander Barkov)
Report from HockeysFuture.com: A talented player with excellent size, Nichushkin has all the tools to be a valuable prospect worth a high first round pick. The 6'4", 220-pound forward is a good skater with excellent skills and a good eye for the pass to the open player. As he is gifted with good size, Nichushkin has good power forward potential. The Chelyabinsk, Russia native can drive through multiple opponents and either attempt to score or pass the puck. Nichushkin is still a bit raw, and has to work on the defensive side of his game, but his style should nevertheless adapt rather well to the more demanding North American game. His strengths are his skill set, skating, and size.