This week’s Raw Table is about yesterday’s 2017 NHL Draft. Here’s who Tampa Bay Lightning drafted in each round:
1st round, 14th overall - RHD Cal Foote, Kelowna Rockets, WHL
2nd round, 48th overall - RW Alexander Volkov, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL
3rd round, 76th overall - C Alexey Lipanov, Dynamo Balashikha, VHL
6th round, 169th overall - RHD Nicklaus Perbix, Elk River, USHS
6th round, 180th overall - C Cole Guttman, Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL
7th round, 200th overall - C Sam Walker, Edina High, USHS
So, what did we think?
Russians! How do you feel about the Russian picks? For example, who is Alexander Volkov and why did we draft him in the 2nd round? (Lipanov, on the other hand, sounds fantastic.)
Extragalactic: I'm looking at Volkov and... okay, I'm confused. He has three points in fifteen regular games this year in his VHL club. why, Yzerman.
Saima: Yzerman said "to the best of his knowledge" Volkov doesn't have a KHL contract. Sounds like the plan is to bring him to Syracuse this year. That's pretty much all I know about him.
Extragalactic: r-hockey.ru, which usually has pretty reliable info, says he's played only 16 regular MHL games (6+5 pts) and 15 VHL ones (3+0). 4 (2+2) and 8 (1+2) games respectively in the playoffs. that's... not a lot.
Saima: I don't understand it at all. Apparently he would have made the Russian world junior team but he broke his foot?
Extragalactic: I didn't know about the foot thing. I have been following the SKA organization for quite some time now and I was not aware of Alexander Volkov’s existence until today.
loserpoints: Future Considerations had him in their top 100.
Extragalactic: Even Russian websites don’t have much to offer about him, and you can’t really blame them for it: while some of Volkov’s MHL teammates already have significant KHL experience with the main team, Alexander hasn’t played a single KHL game, and in the MHL, let alone the slightly more experienced VHL, his numbers are far from outstanding. It’s hard for me to figure out what made Volkov a second-rounder in Al Murray’s eyes. I can only hope we’ll get to see the reason soon.
GeoFitz4: "He handles the puck well and has really good hockey sense," Yzerman said of the 48th overall pick. "We really like the way he plays the game. He's a big, strong kid, and he's 19 years old. We believe he fits into the style of play that we play."
BoltsGuy04: These picks, at the time, looked odd, but a few hours after analyzing the two prospects, the picks looked better. Volkov projects to be a scoring line winger, and although many teams did not have them as high as the Lightning did, the Bolts felt that he was the best player on the board at 48th overall. If I’ve learned one thing over the past few years under Al Murray, it’s to trust his judgment.
GeoFitz: Volkov is... questionable. There’s not much out there on him. He was already passed over in the draft before and didn’t show up in rankings anywhere. His stats in the MHL and the VHL also don’t stand out. With SKA St. Petersburg so stacked with forward talent, if he goes back to Russia, it’s doubtful he’ll see any meaningful time in the KHL. Hopefully Yzerman can get him over to play in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. But even there, he’s going to have a lot of competition for top six time.
JustinG.: Are we sure Alexander Volkov even exists? A Google search brings up a UFC fighter and an artist. Adding “hockey” does bring up the guy that I’m pretty sure Mr. Yzerman drafted. This is a player that it seems would have been available a little later in the second, if not third round. But, as Boltsguy04 said, for now I’ll put my faith in Murray and Yzerman’s experience.
loserpoints: Unless we learn something new in the next couple days/weeks, the Volkov pick is bizarre. I can’t imagine how that’s the best value at 48. The second half of the second round saw a bunch of good players taken so I can’t reconcile going way off the board like that for a player who would likely be around later.
BoltsGuy04: As for Lipanov, being a center makes it easier for him to transition to the wing if the Lightning choose to do with his development. In addition, he will likely be playing with Andrei Svechnikov—a protected top-3 pick next June in Barrie of the OHL. That will surely help his playmaking ability and development.
loserpoints: Lipanov is my favorite pick of the draft. He’s everything that we’ve come to expect from a Bolts draft pick. Skilled, high upside, legitimate top six potential. If not for this pick, the draft would have been a bit of a bust for me.
GeoFitz: Lipanov was an excellent pick. Yes, he’s a center and we are loaded with centers. The upside of that is that centers can more easily transition to the wing than the other way around. As much as we like even Brayden Point as a center, there’s a possibility he ends up being a right winger for the Lightning for a while, especially if Tyler Johnson can hold onto the second center spot.
What do you think of Cal Foote? Do you think he's defensively responsible enough to outweigh his lack of offense? Or would we rather have Liljegren still?
loserpoints: I obviously have a stylistic preference for a different type of player. I would’ve preferred not only Liljegren and Valimaki but even Jokiharju. Nic Hague went in the beginning of the second round and I think the difference between he and Foote is relatively small. If no teams were willing to trade for the pick, I can’t fault the team for taking the player they liked best. But it just doesn’t feel like the right value for the top half of the first round.
GeoFitz: Foote was the safe pick, but I think the best choice over the four other defensemen taken after him. A right hander was very much needed, one that had the potential to play next to Mikhail Sergachev in the next few years. Foote is exactly that kind of player.
BoltsGuy04: I really love the Foote pick. Although it was a safe pick, it fills a huge need in the Lightning’s system. Due to his age and playing in the WHL, Foote will step into Syracuse in the fall of 2018. He is extremely responsible defensively yet can chip in on offense.
JustinG.: In everything I’ve read since the pick, Foote sounds like a Stralman-lite. He isn’t particularly great in any one thing, but always seems to be in the right place. He also fits in with the current regime’s desire to pick players with high hockey IQ.
loserpoints: As for Foote as a player, he seems like a well-rounded player with enough puck skills to get the transition game started and work a typical defender role from the blue line. It seems like that’s what the team wanted and if that’s the case, they’ll likely get their wish.
GeoFitz: Cutting ties with Anthony DeAngelo at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft points towards what the scouting staff might have thought about Liljegren. Amazing offensive talent? Yes. Questionable defensive abilities and hockey IQ? Yes. And that’s why the team went with Foote over Liljegren. Elite hockey IQ, smart physical defenseman, and he’ll take care of the defensive zone.
BoltsGuy04: In golf terms, it remains to be seen if this lay up will be smarter in the long term than the Maple Leafs’ going for it with Liljegren. There are a handful of question marks with Liljegren’s game, but the Lightning weren’t willing to go for the ‘home run’ pick there.
JustinG.: The stories of a young Foote running around the locker room as reminded me of the stories writers used to tell of Cal Ripken, Jr. when he was a kid following his dad (a life-long Baltimore Orioles coach). That turned out pretty well for him. So yes, I just compared Foote to Anton Stralman and Cal Ripken. So good luck with that.
In the 6th and 7th rounds, Yzerman picked two players from the USHS. He's only drafted one USHS player before -- what do we think of his choices here?
loserpoints: I’m fine with the late picks. These are all low probability picks anyway. Guttman put up impressive numbers in the USHL for players his age. Even Walker apparently has some upside even though he’s a really long way away from being ready for the NHL. Those are the kind of picks I like to see late in the draft.
JustinG: Perhaps it’s a sign that the US development program is growing. Instead of entering college undrafted and then hoping to progress enough to be signed as a free agent, players like Sam Walker and Cole Guttman show they are good enough that the Lightning are willing to take a chance on them.
GeoFitz: The style of those picks has shifted a little bit, but the equation is still there. This is three drafts in a row where Yzerman swung for the fences in the 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds. Christopher Paquette, Ryan Zuhlsdorf, Oleg Sosunov, Otto Somppi, Ryan Lohin, and now these three players. Not to mention the risks taken with Henri Ikonen, Joel Vermin, Jake Dotchin, Matthew Peca, and Ondrej Palat.
BoltsGuy04: No complaints there. As the draft progresses, picks become more of a crapshoot. What I love about these picks is that the Lightning will maintain the rights to these players for the entirety of their college careers.
GeoFitz: I think the picks are fine. With how stacked the Lightning’s prospect pipeline is, these are the kind of high-risk, high-reward draft picks that the team can afford to take late in the draft. Even in the early years of the Yzerman administration, we saw him take similar moves.
BoltsGuy04: With that said, it gives the Bolts a leg up on opposing GMs, as they will not have to go through a bidding war upon the respective player’s completion of college, as the Lightning will maintain their rights. In my opinion, that’s what late-round picks are for, as well as taking flyers on potential diamonds in the rough.
JustinG: I think it’s the sixth and seventh rounds. There is a good chance I will forget their names in the next 20 minutes. That’s not a bad thing. Let them go to college and develop as players and see what happens in three or four years.
loserpoints: No reason to pick someone who you hope might one day grind out some minutes on the 4th line. Grab guys who probably won’t make it for whatever reason but if they do, will be skilled players who might actually be able to do something if they get the puck on their stick.
The draft overall: how did the Tampa Bay Lightning do? Any big surprises, anyone nobody was expecting?
BoltsGuy04: Pretty well. Biggest surprise was probably Volkov. A handful of GMs congratulated Yzerman and Murray on the selection at the conclusion of the Draft, but I don’t think anyone saw that pick coming. Luckily for Bolts fans, Volkov can play in Syracuse this fall and thus his development can be fast-tracked.
loserpoints: Overall, I can’t say I’m excited about it. I don’t think they got good value with either of the first two picks. If they like Foote, that’s fine, but trade back and try to get him later knowing that there were still several very good options on defense available.
GeoFitz: I think it was an overall solid draft. Other than perhaps Lipanov in the 3rd round, there’s no prospect that makes me go “Whoa! That’s amazing!” Foote was a safe pick, but he was exactly the kind of defenseman that Steve Yzerman has shown he favors. Volkov was out of left field. So far into left field that it was hard to find any scouting reports about it. I hope that this isn’t a pick we regret taking this high.
loserpoints: Volkov seems like he not only didn’t belong in the second round but might’ve even gone undrafted because as of yet, we haven’t found anywhere that he was considered a significant prospect. I like some of the upside in the later picks but that isn’t enough to compensate for the first two rounds.
GeoFitz: Lipanov was great value where we got him and was ranked higher on most ranking lists. The three NCAA bound players are all high-risk, high-reward selections. But we’ve come to expect that from Yzerman and Al Murray the past few drafts. Oleg Sosunov, Otto Somppi, Ryan Lohin, and Ryan Zuhlsdorf all fit that mold in the late rounds.
JustinG.: I don’t think there were any huge surprises other than it seems that Mr. Yzerman probably could have moved back a few times and still picked the players he wanted. It seems Volkov will be the difference in this draft being “eh..alright” or “oh my god Yzerman is a genius!”