It’s the offseason. There’s spurts of activity, but for most of the time, there’s very little going on. Well, at least for the Tampa Bay Lightning. So why not look at some players from the franchise’s past? Some glorious, some not so glorious. How’d they get here? What did they do? Where did they go? It’s time for a little bit of history. If you have a player you’d like me to cover, please leave your suggestions in the comments.
Today we’ll examine the Lightning’s second first round pick in franchise history. Chris Gratton. Gratton played 482 of his 1,092 career NHL games with the Lightning. He was traded multiple times by the Lightning and had three separate stints in Tampa Bay. He also was the Captain of the Lightning for most of one season before he was traded at the deadline.
In 1992-93, Gratton put up 55 goals and 109 points in 58 games for the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL. He followed that up with 11 goals and 29 points in 16 playoff games. He tied for 12th in regular season scoring in the OHL and was second among U18 players behind Jason Allison who wasn’t drafted until the 17th overall pick. Gratton also scored two goals and four points for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and won a gold medal.
Gratton’s offensive skills combined with his size at a time when size was highly valued in the NHL draft led to him being the third overall pick by the Lightning in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. He was selected after Alexandre Daigle and Chris Pronger. The picks that followed him were also high end players in Paul Kariya, Rob Niedermayer, Viktor Kozlov, and Jason Arnott.
Gratton debuted on 10/6/1993 for the Lightning. He had one shot on goal and failed to hit the scoresheet. However, he recorded his first career assist and point one day later in his 2nd NHL game. On 10/17/1993, Gratton recorded his first multi-point game of his career with two assists. He followed that with two more games with two points, recording a goal and an assist in both games including recording his first career NHL goal in the process.
Gratton played three different stints with the Lightning. He played from 1993-94 through 1996-97 and was an Alternate Captain during the last season. He was brought back early in the 1998-99 season and played parts of two seasons before being traded. Up until he was traded, Gratton was the Captain of the 1999-00 team. He once again returned to the team for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons before being traded once again. He also played six playoff games for the Lightning with two assists in their first ever playoff appearance in 1995-96.
Gratton finished his Lightning career with 482 games played, 98 goals, and 259 points. He was also a minus-122, putting him second last on the Lightning’s franchise ranking in that category. It’s safe to say he was never a really good defensive player. His best season in the NHL came in 1996-97 with the Lightning when he scored 30 goals and 62 points. He matched his 62 points in another season while with the Philadelphia Flyers, but his 30 goals were a career high.
Gratton wore #77 with the Lightning upon his debut and for most of his NHL career. When he returned for his second stint with the Lightning he wore #20. For his third time around with the team, he once again wore #77. The next year, Victor Hedman would take over his #77. Gratton also wore #55 and #24 at other times during his career.
Rest of his Career
In total, Gratton played 1,092 career NHL games. He scored 214 goals and 568 points. He also played in 40 playoff games with eight goals and 15 points. Over the course of his career, he played for the Lightning, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, and Columbus Blue Jackets. He never played in a league outside of North America and only played 24 total games in the minor leagues.