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Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Mulligan: The 2002 NHL Entry Draft

A long, twisting, wild ride.

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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?”

It’s that time again! We’re going back another year in the draft to 2002. The Lightning finished the 2001-02 season with a 27-40-11-4 record for third in the Southeast Division. It was John Tortorella’s first full season with the Lightning after taking over mid-way through the 2000-01 season. It was also the sixth consecutive losing season for the Lightning and without reaching the playoffs. Things did turn around in 2002-03, but with this poor season, they ended up with the fourth overall pick. Exciting!

The Lightning ended up with a few decent draft picks, but overall... well... let’s just say there were a lot of misses. The Lightning had 13 draft picks (and remember this was when the draft still had nine rounds), but 11 of them came in the 5th round and later. So, let’s get to it and see how we can re-shape the Lightning with 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, 4th Pick, 4th Overall

TRADE: Lightning trade 4th overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Ruslan Fedotenko, and two 2002 2nd round picks.

Analysis: Like the 2003 draft day trade to acquire Cory Stillman, this is one that’s hard for me to overturn. While Fedotenko was never a high end point producer, he was consistent with what he brought to the table. He also scored the Lightning two Game 7 goals to clinch the Stanley Cup championship. That alone makes it hard to overturn for me, even though I probably should if we’re looking at this in a vacuum.

Unfortunately, three of the best players in the whole draft had already been taken with Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen, and Jay Bouwmeester. The next best player available would be Alexander Steen as he’s just barely available with this pick.

But, like I said with the Cory Stillman trade, I just can’t bring myself to actually overturn this trade... so... let’s keep it and see where we get with the two second round picks we also got with Fedotenko.

Second Round, 4th Pick, 34th Overall

TRADE: Lightning trade 34th overall to the Dallas Stars for Brad Lukowich and a 2003 7th round pick.

Before we get to the analysis, I would like to point out that this pick was originally owned by the Lightning. It was given up in a trade with the Ottawa Senators in the summer of 1999 as an option of a 2000, 2001, or 2002 second round pick at the Senators’ option along with Rob Zamuner for Andreas Johansson and the rights to sign Rick Dudley as the GM of the Lightning. This pick is one of only a handful of picks in NHL draft history to be traded four times.

ANALYSIS: While Lukowich was a part of the Stanley Cup winning team, I have less trouble with overturning this one. He only average around 18 minutes a night for the Lightning over two years (though he did come back for the 2007-08 season) and was not a factor on the power play with Dan Boyle and Pavel Kubina around. And there’s a future Hall of Famer available here.

OVERTURNED!

New Pick: D Duncan Keith, 1,077 GP, 98 goals, 485 assists, 583 points

Duncan Keith is just barely in our range of players we can select. Actually, he’s the last player eligible. If he wasn’t available, there were still a couple of good players available in forward Jarret Stoll and with another 1,000 game defensemen in Trevor Daley. But in Duncan Keith, there’s a future Hall of Famer on the blue line that makes him an easy pick.

In 14 years with the Chicago Blackhawks, he has averaged over 25 minutes a night. He’s won the Norris Trophy twice and was the Conn Smythe winner as the playoff MVP in 2014-15. He’s also been a first team all-star twice and a second team all-star once. Both times he has reached 60 points in his career, he won the Norris Trophy.

He’s been consistently in the 40-50 point range throughout his career. His only seasons under 30 points came as a rookie and during the lockout shorted 2012-13 season. Even at 35 years old on a significantly diminished Chicago roster, he put up 40 points this past season with only three of those points coming on the power play.

Second Round, 22nd Pick, 52nd Overall

TRADE: Lightning trade 52nd overall pick to the San Jose Sharks for the 60th overall pick in the second round and the 162nd overall pick in the fifth round.

Analysis: This one ends up being a little weird for the analysis. I’m only supposed to look at the players available to pick with the 52nd pick. But because the trade down is only to the 60th pick, I technically get to see some of the players that would be available at the 60th pick. So it really comes down to is there someone in between the picks that I’d rather take than the players I can see after the 60th pick. I know, I’m probably making this harder on myself that I should, but... oh well.

OVERTURNED!

New Pick: F Jiri Hudler, 708 GP, 164 goals, 264 assists, 428 points

Hudler would not be available at the 60th pick since he went 58th overall to the Detroit Red Wings. We already took the best player above in Duncan Keith. We also are skipping on 1,000 game player Matt Stajan. But Hudler was a better offensive performer in his prime reach 50 points four times in his 12 year career including his best year in 2014-15 with career highs of 31 goals, 45 assists, and 76 points. He also won the Lady Byng trophy, his only major award of his career.

Fourth Round, 4th Pick, 100th Overall

Original Pick: F Dmitri Kazionov, Never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Patrick Dwyer, 416 GP, 42 goals, 51 assists, 93 points

This was a pretty weak fourth round. Only four players were available to us that made it to the NHL. Dwyer had the most games and the most points with no one else going beyond 30 points in their career. So, the third line forward it is.

Fifth Round, 4th Pick, 135th Overall

Original Pick: G Joseph Pearce, never appeared in NHL

New Pick: F Kris Newbury, 75 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points

One pick further and we’d have been able to get 550 game defenseman James Wisniewski. But alas, we must pick up the best of three players to appear in the NHL that’s available with our pick. Pearce played four years of NCAA hockey, but played very little and never played professional hockey.

Sixth Round, 4th Pick, 170th Overall

Original Pick: D P.J. Atherton, never appeared in NHL

New Pick: G Curtis McElhinney, 219 GP, 82-82-15, .909 SV%, 2.81 GAA

McElhinney has been a career back-up, but the fact he has lasted so long in the NHL as a back-up accounts for something here. He’s not spectacular, but he gets the job done as a back-up.

Sixth Round, 8th Pick, 174th Overall

TRADE: The Lightning traded a 2003 fourth round pick for this pick, two eighth round picks at 255th and 256th overall, and a ninth round pick 286th overall with the Carolina Hurricanes. Since they traded a future pick, we get to keep these three picks.

Original Pick: F Karri Akkanen, never appeared in the NHL

New Pick: D Ian White, 503 GP, 45 goals, 134 assists, 179 points

White was never a household name, but he was a solid enough defenseman to average 20:52 over an eight year NHL career. He also has the distinction of having played in 83 regular season games during 2009-10 as he was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Calgary Flames. It was also the best season of his career as he put up a career high of 13 goals, 25 assists, and 38 points. He matched his high of 25 assists again in 2011-12 with the Detroit Red Wings.

Sixth Round, 17th Pick, 183rd Overall

Original Pick: D Paul Ranger, 323 GP, 24 goals, 82 assists, 106 points

New Pick: D Paul Ranger

I passed over Paul Ranger with the previous two picks because the other players available were better. But now that we took Ian White with the previous pick, who originally went 191st overall, we’re left with Ranger as the best available player. He was also the best player the Lightning selected in this draft with no one else topping him in games played and points. Some personal issues unfortunately derailed his career, otherwise he might have had an even more impressive NHL stat line.

Seventh Round, 16th Pick, 213th Overall

TRADE: The Lightning trade Josef Boumedienne to the Ottawa Seantors for this pick.

ANALYSIS: Josef who?! Exactly. He played three NHL games with the Lightning in 2001-02, but spent most of the season in the AHL. We can keep the trade.

Original Pick: G Fredrik Norrena, 100 GP, 35-45-11, .899 SV%, 2.79 GAA

New Pick: G Fredrik Norrena

There’s not much point in swapping him out. He actually didn’t come over to the NHL until his age-33 season and played witth the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons. But everyone else available is just a plug anyways. So... whatever.

Eighth Round, 4th Pick, 233rd Overall

Original Pick: G Vasili Koshechkin, never appeared in NHL

New Pick: D Dennis Wideman, 815 GP, 99 goals, 288 assists, 387 points

If Koshechkin had ever decided to leave Russia to try the NHL, he probably would have been successful. Before Andrei Vasilevskiy, we certainly dreamed of him making the move across the pond. He’s won two KHL Championships and also owns an Olympic and World Championship gold medal. Instead, we can take Wideman here as another top four defenseman. He was never in the running for the Norris trophy, but he was pretty good on the power play and putting up points throughout his career.

Eighth Round, 26th Pick, 255th Overall

TRADE: This was received in a trade covered with the 174th overall pick.

Original Pick: F Ryan Craig, 198 GP, 32 goals, 31 assists, 63 points

New Pick: Ryan Craig

There is a wide gulf of nothingness following this pick, so we’re pretty much stuck with keeping Craig.

Eighth Round, 27th Pick, 256th Overall

TRADE: This was received in a trade covered with the 174th overall pick.

Original Pick: F Darren Reid, 21 GP, 0 goals, 1 assists, 1 points

New Pick: F Yan Stastny, 91 GP, 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points

As I said with the last pick, there’s not much here. But the brother of Paul Stastny, son of Peter Stastny, well, at least he did more in his little bit of NHL time than Reid.

Ninth Round, 26th Pick, 286th Overall

TRADE: This was received in a trade covered with the 174th overall pick.

Original Pick: F Alexei Glukhov, never appeared in the NHL

Ninth Round, 27th Pick, 287th Overall

Original Pick: F John Toffey, never appeared in the NHL

New Pick: D Jonathan Ericsson, 662 GP, 27 goals, 98 assists, 125 points

I’ve combined both of these picks together because they’re at the end of the draft. Ericsson was the only player in the last six picks to play in the NHL, so it doesn’t really matter what I do with the other pick. Selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the last pick in the draft, he has had a long and successful career in the NHL. Not an offensive power house, he has consistently been in the teens in points for most of his career. He’s averaged 18:45 TOI and is a decent enough third pairing guy that occasionally bumped up into the top four on the blue line.

Analysis

I’ll keep this one short since we’re already well over 2,000 words and there’s probably not a lot of you that made it this far. This was a fun one with so many picks and trades to analyze. We picked up some really good players, and we still didn’t do great with some picks. Would you have picked any differently? Let me know in the comments. The 2001 NHL Draft Mulligan is up next!