Handicapping The Bolts’ 2014 NHL Draft
The Tampa Bay Lightning along with the Anaheim Ducks are the only NHL teams that have two picks in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Via NHL.com, Lightning Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray put it this way:
“It’s always a good year to have two first-round picks,” he told NHL.com. “If you look at any draft, there’s always 45 to 55 [players], depending on the year … that become regular NHL players. It’s our job to make sure we find at least two of those guys in the first round.”
This year’s draft class is talented, with no real “must draft” prospects as far as the Lightning are concerned. Murray sees it this way:
“I think there are more guys that are similar to each other than a lot of years. It’s a little bit difficult. It tends to come down to team preferences. Everybody has certain attributes they want their players to have. They place a little more emphasis on one of those attributes than the other. That’s often why you can get a guy you really like because one team values size more than another team who values speed over another team that values talent.
“Our talented guy, your big guy is there and somebody else’s fast guy is there,” Murray said. “We all get the guy we want and five years from now we’ll see who was the right guy and who wasn’t quite up to the challenge.”
Murray went on to say that he sees wingers as the strength of the draft, which may provide a hint that the Bolts will trade away a first round pick, as they seem well stocked at wing. Of course, if the Bolts can find size at wing, they will be tempted to use a high pick on that type of prospect.
“I think there are probably more wingers than there are centers or (defensemen),” Murray said. “And I’d say it is a little light on goaltending. Probably the number one position is wingers. Lots of wingers. We think the quality is there. It’s not all first-line players, top-three defensemen, franchise goalkeepers. There’s some good players that will be contributors to NHL teams, in our opinion.”
The Bolts also have one second round pick (50), one third round pick (80), two fifth round picks (140) (142), one sixth round pick (170) and a seventh round pick (200). Tampa Bay’s fourth-round pick will go to the St. Louis Blues as the result of a trade on July 10, 2012 that sent B.J. Crombeen and a fifth-round pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2013 and the 2014 fourth round pick.
After gleaning through the experts mock drafts, the only learned fact is that the NHL draft is a crap-shoot. Having said that, here are the most common prospects mock-drafted at number 19:
Alex Tuch – C/RW, 6’3”222 lbs, USA NTDP Under 18 – Playing out of the US National Program, Tuch is a big robust winger who wreaks havoc by using his strength and size to wear down opponents. He is a rising prospect after a strong first half to his draft season and scouts are beginning to fancy his pro potential. Success has come from his competitive nature and ability to compliment his line mates by playing true to his brand of hockey – winning puck battles and dominating possession. Profile from: Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects.
Julius Honka – D, 5’11” 174 lbs, Swift Current (WHL) – Gifted offensive playmaker from the back end who ranks among the drafts strongest skaters. Had 16 goals and 56 points in 62 games and also had a strong showing for Finland in the 2014 WJC. Profile from: NHL.com’s Adam Kimmelman.
Nikita Scherbak – LW, 6’2″ 174 lbs , Saskatoon (WHL) – Good at driving to the net and creating scoring chances. He has a quick release and can finish. He’s very unselfish and uses his linemates well. He led the Blades as a rookie with 78 points (20 goals and 50 assists). Profile from: NHL.com’s Mike Morreale.
According to NHL.com:
“Unpredictability is the word that would describe the perfect storm that’s about to hit Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at the 2014 NHL Draft, which starts June 27.”
The first round of the 2014 NHL Draft is Friday, June 27. Rounds 2-7 will be Saturday.
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