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?”
Continuing further into the bad, old drafts, we’ve made it to the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The Lightning made a few less picks in this draft with just 10 total draft picks including one in each of nine rounds and an extra pick in the 7th round. Four draft picks eventually appeared in the NHL, but only one made it past 100 games and two made it past 5 games in the NHL. We do get a fairly high draft pick with 8th overall. The most noteworthy players that went before that pick were Dany Heatley, Marian Gaborik, and Scott Hartnell. Rostislav Nlesla and Raffi Torres also broke 600 games, while number one over pick goaltender Rick DiPietro made it to 318 games played.
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, 5th Pick, 5th Overall
TRADE: The Lightning traded this pick, 105th overall in the fourth round, and 202nd in the seventh round to the New York Islanders for Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kudroc, and 31st overall.
ANALYSIS: We have one of the best players of this draft available here. Let’s UNDO THE TRADE!
New Pick: F Scott Hartnell, 1,249 GP, 327 goals, 380 assists, 707 points
Hartnell is easily one of the three or four best players in this draft class. He has the most games played, third most goals, fourth most assists, and fourth most points in the class. He’s a very solid second line winger that plays a tough game. He broke 100 PIMs in 11 of his 17 NHL seasons and probably would have broken 100 PIMs if not for injuries in most of the rest of his seasons. He consistently scored 40+ points throughout his career with a career best of 37 goals and 67 points in 2011-12 for the Philadelphia Flyers.
First Round, 8th Pick, 8th Overall
Original Pick: F Nikita Alexeyev, 156 GP, 20 goals, 17 assists, 37 points
New Pick: F Justin Williams, 1,244 GP, 312 goals, 474 assists, 786 points
This pick was originally acquired at the 1999 draft when the Lightning traded the 4th overall pick to the New York Rangers for Dan Cloutier, Niklas Sundsrom, this pick, and a 2000 third round pick.
There are a number of decent looking picks in here to consider. On the blueline, Ron Hainsey and Brooks Orpik have had long careers with over 1,000 games played in the NHL. While neither of them were high end defensemen, they have had quite successful careers. Forward Brad Boyes and Alexander Frolov also had pretty decent careers. But the last player available to us is easily the best of the lot. Justin Williams ended up going 28th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. Only Scott Hartnell has played more games (5 games more). Gaborik and Heatley are the only players to accumulate more points. He is also one of only seven players from this draft class to play in the NHL this past season.
Williams represents a very good top six right winger that in our new Lightning history could have eventually slotted in on the second line behind Martin St. Louis. His breakout year came in 2005-06 with the Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes when he scored 31 goals and 76 points. While he came down from that high shortly after, he’s consistently been in the 40-50 point range for the rest of his career and has his name etched on the Stanley Cup three times.
Second Round, 4th Pick, 34th Overall
Original Pick: F Ruslan Zainullin, Never appeared in NHL
New Pick: G Ilya Bryzgalov, 465 GP, 221-162-54, .912 SV%, 2.58 GAA
Let’s exchange one Russian for another Russian. Brzygalov was quite the character with some out of this world quotes. Just for that, he’s worth the pick.
“It’s only game. Why you heff to be mad?”
“I’m afraid of bears in the forest.”
“I’m a bad liar.”
Third Round, 16th Pick, 81st Overall
Original Pick: F Alexander Kharitonov, 71 GP, 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points
New Pick: F Dominic Moore, 897 GP, 106 goals, 176 assists, 282 points
Perhaps one of the best bottom six forwards to come out of this draft class, Moore was a solid player throughout his career. He spent parts of two seasons with the Lightning including their 2010-11 run to the Eastern Conference Finals. He sat out the 2012-13 season to care for his wife after she was diagnosed with liver cancer. Dominic Moore hosts a Charity Ping-Pong challenge every summer called Smashfest. Former teammates often go to participate, including Tampa Bay Lightning players Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Patrick Eaves has won the title four straight times.
Moore never won a Stanley Cup, but he did win the Masteron Trophy. Overall, he’s winning at life through his charitable cause.
Fourth Round, 30th Pick, 126th Overall
TRADE: The Lightning trade a sixth (171st overall), seventh (210th overall), and ninth (287th overall) picks for this pick.
Analysis: There’s only one real pick here that’s available to us. This range of 21 players we can look at for this pick is pretty slim with only one player making it past 150 games. And he’s only a bottom line player in Matt Hendricks. He made it to 607 games played, but only contributed 116 points. Let’s overturn this trade and keep our other picks! Also keep in mind, I can’t look ahead to those other picks, so I could be making a mistake, but I’m going to take the risk for three more lottery tickets.
Fifth Round, 31st Pick, 161st Overall
Original Pick: F Pavel Sedov, Never appeared in NHL
New Pick: G Roman Cechmanek, 212 GP, 110-64-28, .919 SV%, 2.08 GAA
Cechmanek was an old draft pick out of the Czech Republic. He was already 29 years old when the Philadelphia Flyers took him. He stepped in right away and was a solid starter for them for a few years. He was the runner up for the Vezina Trophy in his first season as well as placing 4th in the Hart Trophy voting. He also won the Jennings Award in 2002-03 as part of a tandem with Robert Esche that gave up the fewest goals in the NHL that season.
He only lasted in the NHL through the 2003-04 season when he moved to the Los Angeles Kings and did not have a great season. He returned to Europe during the 2004-05 lockout and remained there for the rest of his career. His career was short, but was impactful for the time he was in North America.
Sixth Round, 4th Pick, 171st Overall
TRADE: This pick was traded in the trade we overturned for 126th overall
New Pick: F Darcy Horichuk, 542 GP, 20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points
Funny enough, this is the pick that the Philadelphia Flyers used to take Cechmanek. But here we’ve gotten a similar player to who we would have picked if we had kept the trade. Hendricks was a bottom six forward and so is Horichuk. Horichuk lasted almost as long as Hendricks in the NHL, but produced less points.
Sixth Round, 24th Pick, 191st Overall
Original Pick: D Aaron Gionet, Never appeared in NHL
New Pick: G Henrik Lundqvist, 857 GP, 449-298-93, .918 SV%, 2.41 GAA
Just to prove that I don’t look ahead when I’m doing these draft mulligans... this is our third goaltender selected and well... he’s a future hall of famer. He’s won a Vezina in his career and has been a finalist four other times. Perhaps the best goaltender to play in the NHL to never win a Stanley Cup, King Henrik is amazing. With how the Lightning struggled to find a goaltender after Nikolai Khabibulin left following the 2004 lockout, imagine how good this team could have been with Lundqvist in net. Just imagine. Please.
Seventh Round, 5th Pick, 202nd Overall
TRADE: This pick was traded away in the 5th overall pick deal that we overturned.
New Pick: F Matthew Lombardi, 536 GP, 101 goals, 161 assists, 262 points
Lombardi was originally selected by the Edmonton Oilers 215th overall. However, he didn’t sign with them and went back into the draft where he was taken 90th overall in the third round by the Calgary Flames. Lombardi had a good run as a middle-six forward scoring in the 35-45 point range topping out with 53 points in 2009-10 with the Phoenix Coyotes. He missed most of the 2010-11 season with injury and finished out his career over the next two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, and Anaheim Ducks where he was no longer as effective. He finished his career with three seasons playing in Switzerland.
Seventh Round, 13th Pick, 210th Overall
TRADE: This pick was traded away in the 126th overall pick trade that we overturned.
New Pick: F Antti Miettinen, 539 GP, 97 goals, 133 assists, 230 points
Forward Paul Gaustad was another option here as he lasted almost 200 games longer in the NHL, but he only scored one more point than Miettinen in that time. Miettinen had a fairly short run in the NHL playing parts of 9 seasons. His best years came in 2008-09 and 2009-10 with the Minneosta Wild when he got over the 40 point mark twice. He followed that with a 35 point season for the WIld in 2010-11. He also owns two Olympic medals with a Silver and a Bronze for Team Finland.
Seventh Round, 23rd Pick, 220th Overall
TRADE: This pick was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2001 seventh and ninth round pick. Since this trade was for future picks, we can overturn it!
New Pick: F Paul Gaustad, 727 GP, 89 goals, 142 assists, 231 points
Well would you look at that. The Lightning traded this pick away and the Sabres used the pick on Gaustad. He is the best player left available with this pick since we already took Miettinen. Gaustad had some good years with the Sabres after the 2004 lockout scoring consistently in the 20 point range with two seasons into the 30s for six seasons. After that, his production started to drop off, but he lasted in the NHL through the 2015-16 season.
Seventh Round, 25th Pick, 222nd Overall
Original Pick: D Marek Priechodsky, Never appeared in NHL
New Pick: D Lubomir Sekeras, 213 GP, 18 goals, 53 assists, 71 points
A depth defender, but that’s more than the Lightning got out of Priechodsky who only spent two seasons in North America playing for the Pensacola Ice Pilots in the ECHL before returning to Slovakia. Sekeras on the other hand played in the NHL for three seasons with the Minnesota Wild. His rookie season was his best when he put up 34 points and followed that with 23 points. In 2002-03, he only put up 11 points and moved on to the Dallas Stars in 2003-04. He played four games with the Stars and then was released to return to Europe.
Seventh Round, 29th Pick, 226th Overall
Original Pick: G Brian Eklund, 1 GP, 0-1-0, .842 SV%, 3.09 GAA
New Pick: G Adam Berkhoel, 9 GP, 2-4-1, .882 SV%, 3.80 GAA
Does it really matter? There’s really not much here to select from, but at least we can take a goalie that won a couple games in the NHL? Otherwise, it’s a pick between forwards that played 14 to 39 games and who scored one or two goals in their career. Can’t win ‘em all.
Eighth Round, 4th Pick, 233rd Overall
Original Pick: G Alexander Polukeyev, Never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Darryl Bootland, 32 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points
Meh. There’s not many options here.
Ninth Round, 2nd Pick, 263rd Overall
TRADE: The Lightning traded a 2001 eighth round pick for this pick. We can keep it since it’s a future pick. Though the Lightning likely made this trade because they had already traded away their other ninth round pick in the 126th overall pick that we overturned.
Original Pick: F Thomas Ziegler, 5 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
New Pick: F Roman Simicek, 63 GP, 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points
Meh. There’s not many options here again. Including Ziegler, there were three picks available that appeared in the NHL but never recorded a point and three other players that recorded four points.
Ninth Round, 26th Pick, 287th Overall
TRADE: This pick was traded away in the 126th overall pick trade that we overturned.
New Pick: F Simon Gamache, 48 GP, 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points
Gamache was the only player available here that ever appeared in the NHL.