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Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Mulligan: The 1999 NHL Entry Draft

The Adam Hall edition.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers

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?”

I’m starting to get excited with the Draft Mulligans. Why? This is the last of a long string of bad drafts. Well, first if you’re going in chronological order. This is the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. The draft that featured two presumed Hall of Famers at the top of the draft in Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. The Lightning were involved in the trades that helped the Vancouver Canucks make that happen so there may be a little bit of a struggle to make decisions here. The Lightning had the first overall pick after having the first overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

In real life, the Lightning ended up making ten selections during the draft. Only two players made it past 100 games in the NHL, topping out at 125 games, and five players made an appearance in the NHL. This draft should be interesting and I’m excited to dig into it, but first, let’s review the rules.

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.

Top of the Draft Trades

TRADE: The Lightning trade this pick to the Vancouver Canucks for the 4th overall pick and two third rounds picks, 75th and 88th overall. The Lightning then trade the 4th overall pick to the New York Rangers for Dan Cloutier, Niklas Sundstrom, a 2000 first round pick, and a 2000 third round pick.

ANALYSIS: It’s certainly tempting to go “Hey, I should just take a Sedin.” But the reality of the situation at the time was that to draft one Sedin without the other would have meant they stayed in Sweden. The twins made it clear they would only play together, thus the Canucks’ maneuvering that saw them owning the first four picks of the draft at various points before settling in with the 2nd and 3rd overall picks.

If I’m not going to take one of the Sedins, that leaves us with Patrik Stefan first overall if we stay here, or going down to the 4th overall pick. Stefan was highly touted, but he had a rough career for a 1st overall pick only posting 64 goals and 188 points over 455 games. Then we also have to consider Cloutier and Sundstrom’s value to the club as well. But we can also consider which player we would take with the 4th overall pick as well in making this decision.

Verdict: Trade the 1st overall pick. Keep the 4th overall pick.

First Round, 4th Pick, 4th Overall

New Pick: F Tim Connolly, 697 GP, 131 goals, 300 assists, 431 points

While not a super high end player in his career, Connolly was a very good play maker that could play a second line role. He made the jump straight into the NHL with the New York Islanders and lasted two years there before going to the Buffalo Sabres for most of his career. He was consistently over a half point per game with his best years coming from 2007-08 to 2009-10. He missed most of the 2006-07 season with injury and then missed half of the next two seasons as well with 48 games each in 2007-08 and 2008-09. He recorded 40 and 47 points respectively including a career high 18 goals in 2008-09. He set career highs in assists and points in 2009-10 with 48 assists and 65 points. Connolly spent the 2011-12 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and finished his career with 28 games in the AHL for the Toronto Marlies in 2012-13 before retiring.

Second Round, 19th Pick, 47th Overall

Original Pick: F Sheldon Keefe, 125 GP, 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points

New Pick: F Adam Hall, 682 GP, 69 goals, 87 assists, 156 points

Keefe’s career was cut short due to injuries, but he also never really established himself in the NHL. He played parts of three seasons with the Lightning and finished out his career in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and Utah Grizzlies before injuries forced him to retire and go into coaching.

Adam Hall eventually found his way to the Lightning in 2008. Before turning pro, he won two CCHA championships with Michigan State University. He made his professional debut with the Nashville Predators and remained with them through the 2005-06 season. He played with the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, and Pittsburgh Penguins over two seasons before coming to the Lightning. Hall was with the Lightning organization from 2008 until 2013. He was a very effective 4th line center and faceoff specialist.

Hall finished his career in Switzerland playing three seasons. He also won a Mestis Championship with KalPa and helped them gain promotion to Liiga during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. KalPa had been out of Liiga since being relegated after the 1998-99 season and has remained in Liiga since the 2005 promotion.

Third Round, 1st Pick, 67th Overall

Original Pick: G Evgeny Konstantinov, 2 GP, 0-0-0, .833 SV%, 2.94 GAA

New Pick: G Craig Anderson, 614 GP, 278-234-67, .913 SV%, 2.82 GAA

Anderson has had a long career in the NHL starting with his debut during the 2002-03 season as a 21 year old. It took until 2009-10 though with the Colorado Avalanche before he became a starter at 28 years old when he played 71 games. Anderson is most well known for his time with the Ottawa Senators since the 2010-11 season. He’s also been famous for having a good year, followed by a bad year. Catch him at the right time, and he’s great including 2012-13 when he lead the league with a .941 SV% and 1.69 GAA. However, his best Vezina voting finish was 4th place twice.

Third Round, 9th Pick, 75th Overall

TRADE: This pick was acquired when the 1st overall pick was traded.

Original Pick: D Brett Scheffelmaier, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Mike Comrie, 589 GP, 168 goals, 197 assists, 365 points

This one was a difficult choice as I was looking at two forwards and two defensemen. I ended up going for a player with a shorter career, but with a higher ceiling in his prime. Chris Kelly was also an option has he played 250 games more than Comrie, but Comrie had some great seasons. Comrie played for the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh Penguins over his career. He was a small forward at a time when small forwards were not favored. He hit 30 goals and 60 points twice in his career and sprinkled in a couple other seasons in the 40s and low 50s for points.

Third Round, 22nd Pick, 88th Overall

TRADE: This pick was acquired in the trade of the 1st overall pick.

Original Pick: F Jimmie Olvestad, 11 GP, 3 goals, 14 assists, 17 points

New Pick: F Chris Kelly, 845 GP, 123 goals, 168 assists, 291 points

Kelly was good enough for me to consider with the other pick and I’m glad I left him for this one. He had a pretty consistent career but it took him until after the 2004-05 NHL lockout before he made it into the league with the Ottawa Senators. For most of his career, he scored in the 25-35 point range and generally scored in the teens in goals. He was an effective forward at the bottom of the line up and won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. He retired after the 2017-18 season having captained Team Canada at the Olympic Games and winning a bronze medal.

Fifth Round, 1st Pick, 127th Overall

Original Pick: D Kaspars Astasenko, 23 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points

New Pick: G Ryan Miller, 757 GP, 378-275-82, .915 SV%, 2.60 GAA

Ryan Miller broke into the NHL full time in 2005-06 at 25 years old for the Buffalo Sabres. He won a Vezina Trophy with the Sabres in 2009-10 and has been a consistent starter through his career up until the past couple years with the Anaheim Ducks where he has been a back-up. Miller is approaching the end of his career, but still put up decent stats in 20 games this past season even though he is 38 years old.

Fifth Round, 22nd Pick, 148th Overall

Original Pick: G Michal Lanicek, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Niko Dimitrakos, 158 GP, 24 goals, 38 assists, 62 points

We could have taken another back-up goaltender here in Michael Leighton, but we’ve already taken Anderson and Miller, so the best available skater makes the list here for us. Dimitrakos had some decent success in the NHL, but never seemed to be able to stick. After spending 2007-08 in the AHL, he went overseas and remained in Europe for the rest of his career, except for a 21 game stint in the AHL during 2011-12.

Sixth Round, 25th Pick, 182nd Overall

Original Pick: F Fedor Fedorov, 18 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points

New Pick: F Martin Erat, 881 GP, 176 goals, 369 assists, 545 points

A great playmaker, Erat had a superb career for a 7th round forward. Erat spent most of his NHL career with the Nashville Predators before finishing out his NHL career with the Washington Capitals and Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes. He went to Europe after the 2014-15 season and last still playing in the Czech Republic last season. Erat is also known for having been the main piece in one of the most lopsided trades of the past handful of years when he was traded for Filip Forsberg who has turned into a star for the Predators. Oof.

Seventh Round, 1st Pick, 187th Overall

Original Pick: F Ivan Rachunek, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Tom Kostopoulos, 630 GP, 61 goals, 96 assists, 157 points

A bottom of the line up forward, Kostopoulos lasted in the NHL for a long time, which speaks to his ability. He closed out his career with five years in the AHL with the WIlkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins serving as the team’s captain and retired after 2017-18. He was also the Baby Penguins Captain for two seasons early in his career. He played 722 games in the AHL and recorded 540 points.

Eighth Round, 1st Pick, 216th Overall

Original Pick: F Erkki Rajamaki, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: D Radek Martinek, 486 GP, 25 goals, 85 assists, 110 points

Of the players available here, Martinek played the most games and scored the most points. He averaged 19:16 TOI in his career and played over 20 minutes for half of his career. He spent 12 years in the NHL, 11 of which were with the New York Islanders.

Ninth Round, 1st Pick, 244th Overall

Original Pick: D Mikko Kuparinen, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Mikko Eloranta, 264 GP, 32 goals, 44 assists, 76 points

Switching off to a different Mikko, Eloranta was the most successful 9th round pick of this draft. He only lasted in the NHL for four years coming to the league with the Boston Bruins after his draft year for two years and then was traded to the Los Angeles Kings after playing a handful of games at the start of the 2001-02 season. He went back to Europe after the 2002-03 season.

Conclusions

There are some really, really good players in this draft. Unfortunately, we missed out on a few of them. We had to pass on the Sedin twins just because of reality. We also just missed on being able to take one of two 1,000 game performers in the 7th round in Henrik Zetterberg and Radim Vrbata. Those two finished their careers 3rd and 4th in their draft class in points and games played. We did get Erat though who finished fifth in games played and 6th in points. It’s pretty amazing that three of the top five or six skaters from this draft class came from the 7th round.