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Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Mulligan: The 2007 NHL Entry Draft

If we could take a mulligan, and re-do the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, how could the Lightning have fared?

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What if we could take a mulligan on a Tampa Bay Lightning draft, and re-do the picks the team made? Maybe the team isn’t where it is now. Maybe some of it’s future draft picks don’t get made because the team ended up being better and got worse picks in future drafts. Maybe the team has another Stanley Cup in the trophy case. There are lots of trickle down effects that could happen in such a case. But it’s still fun to ask “What If?”

Today, I’ll be taking a mulligan on the 2007 NHL Entry Draft for the Lightning. The team made nine draft picks with a second, two thirds, a fourth, fifth, sixth, and three sevenths. The fifth round pick and two seventh round picks were acquired by trading a 2008 fourth round pick at the draft. All other trades were completed prior to the draft.

The rules for this Mulligan are that I can only select a player that was drafted within the next 20 draft picks after the Lightning’s selection. This is to give some reality to the possibility of having made the “right” pick according to who was available and who might have been on the draft board at the time. That means that I can’t turn a bust of a first round pick into a super star long shot seventh rounder. Any trades that were made at the draft, including trading draft picks away, can be undone if there is no player worthy of the pick the team traded for, or if there is a star player the team could have selected instead of trading away the pick.

Now with the rules out of the way, let’s get to the fun part!

All NHL career stats are as of 10/28/2018.

Second Round, 17th Pick, 47th Overall

Original Pick: Dana Tyrell, Forward, 135 GP, 7 goals, 17 assists, 24 points.

New Pick: Wayne Simmonds, Forward, 773 GP, 232 goals, 219 assists, 451 points.

This one is a no brainer. There are only two other players to even consider here, and neither of them come close to matching up to the Los Angeles Kings draft pick. T.J. Galiardi was picked by the Colorado Avalanche and has 105 points in 321 career games as a forward. Nick Spaling was a forward selected by the Nashville Predators and has 124 points in 437 career games.

Simmonds though has had a very successful career as a power forward. Injuries have slowed him down over the past year, but that doesn’t dull his shine as a force down low on the power play. He spent his first three years in the NHL with the Kings before being traded to the Flyers where he’s had four seasons of at least 50 points and has scored 25 goals or more goals five times, just missing the mark last year with 24 goals.

Third Round, 14th Pick, 75th Overall

Original Pick: Luca Cunti, Forward, Never appeared in the NHL

New Pick: Alex Killorn, Forward, 445 GP, 89 goals, 135 assists, 224 points.

Killorn was taken two picks after Cunti by the Lightning, but he is the best of the 20 picks that follows. He has turned out to be a solid top-six forward that has consistently scored around a half point per game in his NHL career. There is only one other player to really consider for this pick, and we’ll find out more about him when we look at the next pick which was used for Killorn.

Third Round, 16th Pick, 77th Overall

Original Pick: Alex Killorn, Forward, 445 GP, 89 goals, 135 assists, 224 points.

New Pick: Alec Martinez, Defense, 507 GP, 58 goals, 117 assists, 175 points.

So, I did debate this with the previous pick. But I realized quickly that either way I was going to end up with Killorn and Martinez with these two picks. Martinez has turned out to be a solid defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings playing in a top-four role. He has averaged 19:03 TOI in his career, but over the past three seasons has been averaging over 21 minutes a night. He’s been a steady contributor on the power play for the Kings and had his best year in 16-17 when he put up 39 points. He has scored at least five goals and 20 points in each of the past five seasons and at least five goals in each of the seven seasons he has played more than 50 games.

Fourth Round, 16th Pick, 107th Overall

Original Pick: Mitch Fadden, Forward, Never appeared in the NHL

New Pick: Colton Sceviour, Forward, 334 GP, 49 goals, 62 assists, 111 points.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to choose from here. In the 20 picks after the Lightning took Fadden, there’s mostly depth players. Forward Dwight King was the other option and has more games in the NHL than Sceviour, but he has moved on to playing in Europe while Sceviour is still with the Florida Panthers. In Sceviour, the team would have gotten a bottom six forward that has put up some goals and points, but is otherwise unspectacular. We also just miss out on the opportunity to take Jamie Benn here as he was taken two picks past the end of the range in our rules.

Fifth Round, 29th Pick, 150th Overall

TRADE: Lightning trade 2008 fourth round pick for this pick and two seventh round picks on draft day.

Original Pick: Matt Marshall, Forward, Never appeared in the NHL

New Pick: Carl Hagelin, Forward, 497 GP, 89 goals, 136 assists, 225 points.

Carl Hagelin has had a solid career as a middle-six left winger, including winning two Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was originally drafted by the new York Rangers and was subsequently traded to the Anaheim Ducks and then the Pittsburgh Penguins. While this does make the third left winger we’ve drafted in our Mulligan, we’ve picked up some nice depth pieces. Hagelin is a good enough piece here at the end of the fifth round to consider the trade a success with this pick regardless of how we do with the two seventh round picks.

Sixth Round, 16th Pick, 167th Overall

Original Pick: Johan Harju, Forward, 10 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points.

New Pick: Paul Byron, Forward, 373 GP, 74 goals, 77 assists. 151 points.

In the 2007 draft, Hagelin was taken with the next pick, but since we already have him, we have to look to other options now. There are only two names that stick out; Nick Bonino and Paul Byron. If I had done this a year or two ago, Bonino would have been the obvious choice. He’s made himself into a solid third line center and has had a solid career that includes two Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins.

But the steps forward that Byron has taken in the past two years as a late blooming prospect I think pushes him past Bonino now. He has almost 120 less games played, but his points per game is only just lower than Bonino’s over his career. The big selling point though is his shooting. He bounced around, in and out of the line-up and the AHL with the Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames before landing with the Montreal Canadiens for the 2015-16 season. He put up 11 goals and 18 points in 62 games for the Canadiens. But in 2016-17 he had a breakout year scoring 22 goals and 43 points in 81 games. He followed that with 20 goals and 35 points last season.

Bonino only broke the 20 goals threshold once in 2013-14. His play has also dropped off since moving to the Nashville Predators. Combining those factors makes me lean towards Byron as he has continued an upward trajectory later into his career.

Seventh Round, 2nd Pick, 183rd Overall

Original Pick: Torrie Jung, Goaltender, Never appeared in the NHL.

New Pick: Justin Braun, Defense, 540 GP, 22 goals, 119 assists, 141 points.

The other name for consideration here is Carl Gunnarsson, another defenseman. Gunnarsson has 25 goals, 97 assists, and 122 points in 556 games played. Gunnarsson broke into the NHL earlier due to Braun going to NCAA hockey before turning professional. But overall, Braun has had a better career as Gunnarsson has struggled with injuries and decreased levels of performance the past four or five years.

Braun has averaged 19:52 TOI in his career with the San Jose Sharks and been a solid contributor getting most of his offense at even strength in his career. Braun is also a coveted right hander that makes him a nicer pick here than Gunnarsson as well.

Seventh Round, 16th Pick, 197th Overall

Original Pick: Michael Ward, Defense, Never appeared in the NHL.

New Pick: Paul Postma, Defense, 204 GP, 9 goals, 25 assists, 34 points.

This is where taking Justin Braun over Gunnarsson with the previous pick hurts as Braun would have been eligible for this pick. But since we already took him, we’re left with Postma as the only real choice. He was picked 205th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers. As his best, he was a third-pair depth right handed defenseman. His best season came for the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012-13 lockout year when he scored four goals and nine points in 34 games. The only time he topped his nine points from that season in the NHL was 2016-17 again for the Jets with a goal and 14 points in 65 games.

Seventh Round, 29th Pick, 210th Overall

Original Pick: Justin Courtnall, Forward, Never appeared in the NHL.

New Pick: Trent Vogelhuber, Forward, Never appeared in the NHL.

Seeing as how there were only 211 picks in this draft, the choice is keep Courtnall or take the guy that went last. In this case, we’re going to take the guy that went last. Both players went to NCAA after being drafted. Courtnall put up some big offensive numbers in the BCHL the two years after being drafted but never found that again. He played three years at Boston University before turning pro. He retired after 2015-16 with 123 AHL games and 23 points.

Vogelhuber on the other hand did have some NCAA success and stayed there for four seasons before going professional. His best AHL season came in 2015-16 when he had 11 goals and 27 points in 70 games. Over 267 AHL games, he scored 28 goals and 73 points. He also just retired from hockey and took a job as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Monsters in the AHL.

Conclusions

By taking this mulligan, we have retained the only good draft pick to come out of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft for the Lightning. We also added three good forwards, a couple of top-four defensemen, and some depth pieces. This mulligan probably doesn’t have much of an effect on the Lightning being bad in 2007-08 and 2008-09, so in theory they should still be able to get Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

But who knows what happens if we change history? That’s the danger of time travel.