The Tampa Bay Lightning will officially be picking 14th in this summer’s NHL draft. It would have taken some incredible luck for the Lightning to land one of the top three picks and as expected, that didn’t happen. But one team did get that kind of luck. The Philadelphia Flyers who were only one spot ahead of the Lightning jumped all the way to the second spot. Dallas also made a big move from 9th into the third slot. And New Jersey rounded out an unlikely top three by landing the first pick. That combination is certainly the most unlikely top three since this version of the lottery was instituted for the 2014-2015 season.
All that good luck also meant bad luck for other teams. Vancouver dropped to number five despite having the second best odds. Arizona fell all the way to 7th, which was their worst possible outcome. The expansion Las Vegas Knights will make their first ever selection with the sixth pick.
While the Lightning won’t have a chance at the players ranked at the very top of this year’s draft class, they will still have a chance to get a very good prospect at number 14. Some have called this a weak draft class. That’s debatable. But at this point in the process, we are seeing a fair amount of variance between different rankings. That means that this is likely to be a fun year with some surprises in the first round and potential for a highly ranked prospect to slide into the middle of the first where the Lightning will pick.
Right-handed defender Timothy Liljegren, who was once considered a top-five prospect, has been sliding over the last couple of months due to a decrease in production during a season in which he missed time because of mononucleosis. He sits 12th in Bob McKenzie’s most recent rankings, which is only two spots ahead of the Lightning. As the evaluation process continues over the next two months, we will see more changes and adjustments as players climb up or fall down the draft rankings like a game of chutes and ladders.
Here at Raw Charge, we’re going to do our best to keep you informed throughout the process. Missing the playoffs this year was not part of the plan but it does give the team a year of being in the middle of the draft order instead of the end as they have been most recently. Starting next week, we’ll dive deep into defenders like Liljegren, Juuso Valimaki, Nicolas Hague, Erik Brannstrom, and Callan Foote.
We’ll also look at forwards like Michael Rasmussen, Kailer Yamamoto, Cody Glass, Lias Andersson, and Kristian Vesalainen. In a year where we’re likely to see lots of changes in the rankings as the draft approaches, we’ll make sure you’re familiar with as many of the potential picks as possible. We’ll also look into what the front office might be able to do if they look into trading the pick.
If you’d like to see an evaluation of any specific player, let us know here in the comments and we’ll do our best to add them to our coverage. With the lottery over, crunch time for Yzerman and his scouts begins now. They’ll pick 14th on June 23rd. If you enjoy the draft, the next 45 days should be fun.