If there’s one thing the Lightning have proven over the past few years, it’s that they know how to draft. Steve Yzerman has built an incredibly talented young team of homegrown talent – many of which have come after the first round.
With three out of the first 58 picks in this weekend’s draft, Yzerman & co will look to add to the organization in a way that will have a lasting effect.
Here are some potential targets for each of Tampa Bay’s 9 picks.
27. Boris Katchouk – LW – S.S. Marie, OHL
Katchouk is currently ranked as high as 22, but he is in the 30 range of most draft lists. He is a do-everything forward that may not be elite at any one aspect of the game but is above average at just about everything. He is a candidate to be a draft +1 breakout next season as his growth has been on an upward trajectory. He probably played the best hockey of his life in the first round upset of the Sarnia Sting this past April. He’s a late birth date and might take a little longer to develop than some others drafted around him.
He is a high-character player that has a desire to get better. The Lightning could do far worse at the end of the first round.
44. Will Bitten – C – Flint, OHL
If Bitten falls to 44, it would be an absolute coup for Yzerman. Bitten has first round talent but is hampered by his size and the fact that he had to suffer through a really tough year in Flint.
Bitten is a great skating offensive talent that has some of the best puck skills in the OHL. Playing on a terrible team during a season that was constantly derailed by internal strife, Bitten still averaged more than a point per game.
Given a little stability in Flint next seasons – or a trade elsewhere – Bitten could be near the top of the OHL scoring race in his draft +1 year.
58. Joey Anderson – RW – USNDT
Anderson has been a bit overshadowed by his first round linemates – Bellows and Keller. During the year he showed that he doesn’t necessarily need to puck on his stick to be successful. He has the instincts and hockey IQ to play a perfect complimentary role, and those kinds of players are necessary in the NHL.
Anderson ahs a very good shot and has the ability to get open for his playmaking center. Like with most 18-year-olds, he’ll need to put on some muscle next season as he begins his NCAA career.
88. Domenic Commisso – C – Oshawa, OHL
Commisso is an undersized center that had a great second half to his rookie season in Oshawa. When watching him play, you instantly notice how great a skater Commisso is. He has incredible speed and an elusiveness needed to keep possession against bigger defenders. He has great vision and is a wonderful playmaker.
Commisso is more than an offensively gifted forward has he as a very strong two-way game for someone his age. He will kill penalties and plays responsible in all three zones.
118. Filip Berglund – D – Skellefteå AIK, Sweden
Berglund is an offensive minded right-handed defender. He is big but lacks the long smooth stride you often see from players with his frame. Berglund is great with the puck on his stick and while he’s not the fastest skater, he has no problem controlling the breakout. He has great vision and has shown the ability to be a key member of his team’s transition from defense to offense.
He was passed over in last year’s draft but he’s improved significantly since then and could be the best second-year eligible players in the draft.
148. David Quenneville – D – Medicine Hat, WHL
Quenneville is small for any position but especially by defenseman standards. At 5’8, 180lbs, he will fall this far in the draft because he has trouble when the game turns physical and scouts will believe that he’ll never be able to compete against NHL forwards.
That said, Quenneville is an incredible offensive defenseman. He had 55 points – 41 assists – from the blueline and shows a poise with the puck that if he were 6’2 would put him in the conversation for the first round.
He has good vision and a great first pass to lead the breakout. He doesn’t shy away from physicality but his size often leaves him on the short and of many confrontations. His puck-moving ability and offensive game will give him a shot to be in the NHL one day.
178. Daniil Miromanov – RW – Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL
Miromanov is a solid two-way player. He won’t wow anyone on offense but in a league like the QMJHL, he shows defensive and neutral-zone instincts that are increasingly rare. He’s got some potential to be a bottom-6 forward down the road.
He might provide a little secondary production as he is a bit of a streak scorer.
206. Garrett Pilon – C – Kamloops, WHL
Pilon had a decent rookie season in the WHL. He is a bit of a perimeter player and needs to learn to fight through traffic a little better to improve his offensive numbers.
He’s got a quick shot and the hockey IQ to know when to take advantage of it. Pilon has all the makings of being an offensive AHL player but with the right development, could crack the Lightning lineup down the road.
208. Michael Graham – F – Fargo, USHL
On his way to Notre Dame in the fall, Graham plays a very balanced game down the middle of the ice but can fill in on the wing when necessary. He battles hard in the corners and is the kind of forward that can create some havoc on the forecheck.
He is a smart player and a good skater that will benefit from a few years in the NCAA.
To learn more about this year’s draft prospects check out our extensive consolidated rankings post here.