It's a no-brainer... Really, positively a no-brainer with little need to speculate, little need to argue, little need to do anything but hunker down, shut up and wait for the draft.
D Victor Hedman via svt.se
Victor Hedman, defenseman from Sweden, should be the Lightning's #1 draft selection at the #2 slot in the 2009 entry draft, that's the sound decision for a team that featured 22 different defensemen this season. It's a sound decision for a franchise that lacks depth (and stability) in their own zone.
But what fun would that be for a former-agent-turned-General-Manager?
How much faith do fans have that Lawton will sit on the pick? How much faith is there that Len Barrie won't put his hands in the cookie-jar and steer things on another what-if impulse after an offer is tended to the Lightning that piques an interest?
How much faith is there that management doesn't make a further mess out of their investment?
A salesman doesn't sit idle when he has wares to shop... But a good salesman is subtle in tending them. Take care of thy shop and thy shop will take care of you, after all.
And yet where one might drop hints through the context of statements, others put up gaudy signs suggesting no serious offer will not be considered. The latter is the type of salesmanship that Lawton has put forth over the draft pick so far.
But how much of a difference does the Lightning make by simply selecting Hedman without any of the listening-to-offers crap? And if the Lightning are successful in chasing BU Defensemen Matt Gilroy? you've upped the skill level of the defensive zone by leaps and bounds without the volatility of trade negotiations and further upsetting a roster that was savaged by instability all season long.
You further strengthen a young nucleus in the defensive zone as well. Keen on Lashoff? Like Smaby and Lundin? Round them, Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros out with an NHL capable player (or two) who are blank slates.
It won't be that straightforward in the Lightning offices, though. Not when they can play what-if games until draft day (and beyond). Faith, however, doesn't exist in what-if impulse moves. What-ifs are throwing crap against the wall and hoping it sticks. That was the Lightning's 2008 off-season to a T. And nothing stuck as so much stunk.
It isn't even clear what the Lightning's targets are this off season. Solidifying the blue line has been mentioned, but it remains to be seen what or who the Lightning have the most interest in. In that light, it's also impossible to tell what the Bolts would command in trade for the pick. More picks? A scoring winger? Couldn't tell you -- the MO hasn't become clear a year after OK Hockey took over the reigns of the Lightning. Lawton has said that the Lightning aren't goign to sell the pick off for an over aged D-man... But that still keeps a wide array of trade targets through vagueness.
So the head games about Hedman shall further ensue from this point on... when no games should really be played at all. Unless a deal is offered that is so breathtakingly bad for the other side it'd be foolish not to do it (Hershel Walker / Eric Lindros quality deal ) the Lightning should be cozing up to Victor and suggesting he get acquainted with Tampa Bay...