During its first decade in the NHL, the team saw both great success—finishing with 71 points in only its second year of existence—and total failure, winning only 17 of 82 games in the 1997-1998 season.
In a total turn of events, the team went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2004, having only been in the league for 12 years.
The NHL Entry Draft, like all drafts in professional sports, is a gamble of exceptional magnitude that comes down to scouting, development and, occasionally, luck. The Tampa Bay Lightning have experienced fortune in all three of these aspects, drafting players such as first-overall picks Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos who have gone on to become NHL All-Stars, and other players such as Brad Richards, who was selected 64th overall.
Despite the pickups of excellent players throughout their history as an organization, the team has also faced disappointment and difficulties through the 19 drafts they have selected from. These are the top-five prospects who had big promise, but who came up short.