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?”
So far, we have covered the 2006 through 2009 drafts. It’s been a little while since the last one of these, but with the offseason in full swing, it’s a good time to continue this series. Hopefully we’ll make it all the way back to the first draft before the Lightning play another meaningful game of hockey.
Since it has been a few months since the last one, here’s a refresher of the rules surrounding this draft mulligan.
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.
All stats are as of the regular season finale of the 2018-19 season.
First Round, 30th Pick, 30th Overall
Original Pick: D Vladimir Mihalik, 15 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P
New Pick: D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, 965 GP, 67 G, 244 A, 311 P
There are some great players to pick from in here. Up front, James Neal and Paul Stastny. Justin Abdelkader is also here, but he paless in comparison to Neal and Stastny. Neal is a better goal scorer, but Stastny as put up more points over his career. There’s also Ondrej Pavelec in goal who sits at 398 games played in the NHL. Despite his longevity and becoming a full time starter at the age of 22 in 2009-10, he hasn’t exactly been a star goaltender, though he has a Gold and Bronze medal at the World Championships and an AHL championship under his belt.
But one name stands out above all, and that is the beloved Pickles. I mean... Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He’s not a flashy defenseman on the offensive side of the puck, but he’s about as well rounded as they come on the blue line. He’s spent his entire career with the San Jose Sharks and will get his silver stick some time next season when he reaches 1,000 games played. One thing very telling about his game was that we was chosen to play for Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi despite the incredibly deep pool of defensemen that Canada boasts. In his career, he has won an Olympic Gold, World Cup of Hockey Gold, and two silvers in the World Championships. He also was a Memorial Cup Champion.
Third Round, 12th Pick, 73rd Overall
Original Pick: F Radek Smolenak, 7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P
New Pick: G Ben Bishop
Let’s just jump straight ahead and grab Ben Bishop now. Why not? This pick was actually acquired in a draft day trade. The Lightning gave up a 2005 fifth and 2006 fourth round pick to get this one from the San Jose Sharks. Yeah, this means that we don’t get one of the biggest trade steals Steve Yzerman pulled off. And yeah, we probably mess up his development. But so what? Bishop was popular and we still love him so I want to take him. Besides, defenseman Cody Franson is the only other halfway decent pick available here.
Third Round, 28th Pick, 89th Overall
Original Pick: F Chris Lawrence, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: D Keith Yandle, 907 GP, 94 G, 434 A, 528 P
Yee Haw! Let’s pick up another big defenseman to go with our earlier pick of Vlasic. There’s actually a few really good picks and some at least NHL usable players here. Fortunately for me, the Lightning have two more picks coming up here that cover pretty much this whole group. The Lightning actually passed on Yandle with three picks in a row here. But that’s how drafting goes sometime. Oh, this pick was also acquired in a trade, but it was for a future pick so we’re just get to let this one ride.
Fourth Round, 1st Pick, 92nd Overall
Old Pick: F Marek Bartanus, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: D Niklas Hjalmarsson, 754 GP, 24 G, 138 A, 162 P
Between Vlasic, Yandle, and Hjalmarsson, we’ve got a complete left side of the blue line. Not bad. Hjalmarsson also fits into the group with Vlasic being a more defensively minded defenseman to help anchor a pairing in our alternative history here.
Fourth Round, 11th Pick, 102nd Overall
Old Pick: F Blair Jones, 132 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 17 P
New Pick: G Alex Stalock
To further shore up our roster, we’ve gotten a great blue line together, we got our starter in Ben Bishop. Now we can grab a decent back-up to go along with Bishop. Stalock has played in 113 career NHL games mostly with the San Jose Sharks and with the Minnesota Wild the past three seasons. This was also a pick we got in the trade with the pick we used to take Yandle earlier.
Fifth Round, 8th Pick, 133rd Overall
Old Pick: F Stanislav Lascek, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: F Nathan Gerbe, 396 GP, 58 G, 80 A, 138 P
There’s not a lot of great options here, just a handful of players that have played a couple hundred games in the NHL other than Gerbe. Gerbe has played in 396 career games with 138 points mostly with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes. His best season was in 2010-11 when he put up 16 goals and 31 points in 2010-11 for the Sabres over 64 games. He had the exact same goals and points in 2013-14 for the Hurricanes, but it took him 81 games to reach that.
Sixth Round, 1st Pick, 163rd Overall
Old Pick: F Marek Kvapil, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: F Tim Kennedy, 162 GP, 15 G, 24 A, 39 P
There’s uhh... not a whole lot here so we took the player that played the most in the NHL with Kennedy. There’s not a lot else to say here other than that at least he played over 150 games?
Sixth Round, 3rd Pick, 165th Overall
Old Pick: G Kevin Beech, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: F Brett Sutter, 60 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 P
It’s kind of unfortunate that this pick is so close to the previous one. Being two picks later didn’t open up anyone else that had actually played in the NHL. Sutter at least comes from a hockey family being the son of Darryl Sutter. He’s also got leadership intangibles as he has been an AHL Captain in five different seasons. He’s also been a pretty consistent performer in the AHL, so at least there’s that.
Seventh Round, 31st Pick, 225th Overall
Old Pick: D John Wessbecker, Never appeared in the NHL
New Pick: F Patric Hornqvist, 718 GP, 221 G, 227 A, 448 P
Usually when you get these end of the draft picks, it’s next to impossible to find anything of value here. There’s always one or two seventh round picks that make something of themselves in the NHL, but it’s still pretty rare. But the Nashville Predators found a gem in Mr. Irrelevant Patric Hornqvist. It took some time before he came over from Sweden, but since then he has been a consistent producer on the ice and has won two Stanley Cups for his efforts.
What a horrible draft this was for the Lightning. Not only did they trade a lot of future picks to get more picks in this draft (leaving the 2006 draft with just four picks), but they did next to nothing with their 2005 draft picks. Only three players even made it to the NHL of the nine picks they made. Blair Hones had by far the best career with 17 points in 132 games. But all told, the three only combined for 154 games, seven goals, and 21 points.
On the other hand, in our mulligan, we got a top six winger, a couple of bottom six forwards, three stellar defensemen, a starting goalie, and a back-up goalie. Sounds like an A++ draft to me. But that’s always how a “What If...” goes.
Leave your comments in the comment section. Watch out for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft mulligan article coming soon!