A couple weeks ago, we took a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2014 draft class and where those prospects are now. For the most part, it's looking like a pretty good class of players with some still finding their way. On the other hand, we have the 2010 draft class which looks a little more... meh...
While Steve Yzerman was officially the Lightning's General Manager for this draft, he did not have time to get his scouting staff into place to be ready for the draft. He left the previous regime's scouting director and staff in place and allowed them to make the call for the draft.
Looking back, there were some questionable decisions starting right from the top and the 2011 draft would look much different with Yzerman and Al Murray fully in charge.
W Brett Connolly - 1st round, 6th overall
While maybe not the most disappointing first round picks in the Lightning's history, Connolly did not live up to his promise after being drafted. An injury in his draft year had limited him to only 16 games in the WHL and 4 games in the World Junior Championships. When he was playing, he was close to a point per game player and had about the same performance when he was returned to his junior team, the Prince George Cougars, after being selected 6th overall by the Lightning.
In 2011 as a 19 year old, the Lightning had a decision to make. His junior team, the Prince George Cougars, wasn't in a good situation to further develop him and Yzerman decided to keep him in the NHL. He played limited minutes, much like we saw with Jonathan Drouin last season. Connolly had 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 68 games in 2011-12.
Over the next two seasons, Connolly would play mostly in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch while only appearing in 16 NHL games, scoring only 2 goals in that span. With the Crunch Connolly was sometimes a streaky point producer on the first-line wing and overall produced fairly consistently at a near-point per game level.
When Connolly finally became waiver eligible, the team kept Connolly in the NHL for 2014-15 (waiving fellow wing Richard Panik and losing him to waivers in the process, which likely would have happened with Connolly if the club tried to send him down). He played primarily third and fourth line minutes and had become a bit more of an agitator to solidify his position in the NHL. Connolly has a shoot-first mentality and that led to him scoring 12 goals in 50 games, with only 3 assists.
Connolly was traded to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline for a 2015 and 2016 2nd round pick. With the 2015 2nd round pick, the Lightning took Matt Spencer.
Looking back at the 1st round of this draft, there are definitely some other players that stand out that would have been better picks than Connolly. I also feel that Yzerman likely would have made a different selection as his philosophy on picks doesn't match up with taking a Connolly. Some other options at that spot would have been Jeff Skinner, Mikael Granlund, Cam Fowler, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. I'd like to think that with Yzerman's fearlessness in taking risks on Russians, that he might have snagged Tarasenko at that spot. But that's all just fantasy.
D Brock Beukeboom - 3rd round, 63rd overall
Rank Buekeboom right up there with Slater Koekkoek and Jyrki Jokipakka for funnest names to say in hockey. Unfortunately, that's about as far as Beukeboom's contribution to hockey goes. He was not a big point producer before he was drafted and became even less of one after he was drafted. Only 8 months after being selected, Yzerman packaged his rights along with a third round pick to the St. Louis Blues for Eric Brewer . Since then, Beukeboom has completed his junior eligibility and has competed the last two seasons with the University of Prince Edward Island.
D Radko Gudas - 3rd round, 66th overall
The Czeching ball, Radko Gudas, was an overage draft pick at a time when the Lightning needed more defensive depth in the minors. He had been passed over while playing in the Czech Republic in his first year of draft eligibility and came to the Everett Silvertips of the WHL as a 19 year old to try to establish himself for the draft. He succeeded in doing that and stepped right into the Norfolk Admirals lineup as a hard hitting blueliner.
After two full seasons with the Admirals and then moving to the Syracuse Crunch when the Lightning changed their AHL affiliation, Gudas made his NHL debut in 2012-13 appearing in 22 games and contributing 5 points and 38 penalty minutes.
Gudas stepped into the Lightning's lineup in 2013-14 in a more permanent capacity. While he had looked like he would be a solid third-pairing body mover, Guddas started to show a grander potential and discipline, allowing him to play a fringe top four role. It looked like the Lightning had really found a diamond in the rough. In 73 games, he had 22 points and 152 penalty minutes in 2013-14.
Unfortunately, last season was cut short at 31 games by a knee injury. Then he was traded at the deadline to Philadelphia as a part of the Braydon Coburn trade. While he struggled with some rust in the preseason, Gudas has stepped up for the Flyers and is playing over 20 minutes a night for a team that desperately needed a right-handed defenseman. Gudas also recently received a three game suspension for an illegal check to the head.
D Adam Janosik - 3rd round, 72nd overall
Janosik was a Slovakian defenseman playing in the QMJHL at the time of the draft. He was a half point per game player and never developed much more offense to his game than that. He played one more year in Canada, did not sign an entry level contract with the Lightning and returned to Europe. He has played in the Czech top and second league as well as one season in the Slovakian top league. A disappointing draft pick to say the least.
D Geoffrey Schemitsch - 4th round, 96th overall
Schemitsch's story looks a lot like Brock Beukeboom's except without the trade and the cool name. He was drafted out of the OHL with some decent offensive ability that seemed to go away after his draft year. He played two more seasons in the OHL (splitting time between the Owen Sound Attack and the Oshawa Generals) and now is playing hockey for Acadia University.
W James/Jimmy Mullin - 4th round, 118th overall
Jimmy Mullin was a draft-and-follow prospect. He was selected out of the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary's where he had 77 points in 55 games played. He moved to the Fargo Force of the USHL for a year before enrolling at the University of Miami (Ohio) to play NCAA hockey. He was very good for Fargo, putting up 60 points in 52 games and followed it up with a decent freshman campaign of 26 points in 37 games.
Discouragingly, his game trailed off in his sophomore and junior seasons with Miami and Mullin's fourth year was lost to a knee injury. Mullin received a medical redshirt for the season giving him another year of college hockey. He transferred to Minnesota State University at Mankato for his final season of eligibility where he has struggled to regain his offensive form. At this point, it seems unlikely that he'll earn an entry level contract with Tampa Bay. He looks more like a player that would be signed to an AHL deal and mostly play in the ECHL as depth for Syracuse.
W Brendan O'Donnell - 6th round, 156th overall
O'Donnell was another draft-and-follow prospect. However, he had been playing non-major Junior hockey in Canada and spent another year there before going to the University of North Dakota. After being an offensive force in juniors, O'Donnell did not produce in the same way for UND, being slightly under a half-point per game player over his NCAA career. While the Lightning have given him a look this past summer and may have had some interest in signing him to a AHL deal, he became a free agent in August and is now playing with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL where he has a goal and six assists in six games.
D Teigan Zahn - 7th round, 186th overall
Zahn was originally a fifth round selection by the Blackhawks in the 2008 draft but wasn't signed, re-entering the draft in 2010 where the Lightning selected him. He returned to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL for another season as an overage junior player. The Lightning ultimately didn't sign him. He spent one year in Canadian college hockey before turning pro. He has bounced around the AHL and ECHL playing for five different teams since 2012-13, but has settled in with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL the past two seasons. In 70 games last year for the Eagles, he contributed 20 points and 298 penalty minutes.
The 2010 NHL entry draft really didn't turn out that great for the Lightning, and that was pretty much the story of the previous regime's scouting department. From the 2008 to 2010 draft picks, of which the Lightning selected 23 players, only Steven Stamkos, Luke Witkowski, and Victor Hedman are currently playing for the Lightning with James Mullin as the only other player still Tampa Bay property. Since then Steve Yzerman and Al Murray have completely revamped the scouting department and drastically changed the Lightning's philosophy on drafting and developing players. The Yzerplan is working and the 2010 draft class is a pretty good show of how the previous plan did not work.