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?”
The 1995 NHL Entry Draft was the Lightning’s fourth draft in franchise history (not counting the Expansion Draft, of course). The Lightning ended up making eight selections with a pick in each round except the fourth. Four of the eight picks made it to the NHL, including a ninth round goaltender. However, only one player made a significant impact in the NHL.
The Lightning didn’t pick until 5th overall. While the Lightning did better with the 5th pick than at least three of the top four picks, there are some other big name players here. The 1996 first round was kind of weak, but the 1995 first round was pretty strong. It features six players that made it to 1,000 games played with two of them reaching 1,500 games! There’s also four goaltenders in the first round that made it to at least 300 games in the NHL, which is pretty impressive.
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
Original Pick: F Daymond Langkow, 1,090 GP, 270 goals, 402 assists, 672 points
New Pick: F Jarome Iginla, 1,554 GP, 625 goals, 675 assists, 1,300 points
As strong of a pick as Langkow was, reaching that 1,000 games mark, Iginla is the clear cut leader of the first round. Even so, there are so many other good choices here. Shane Doan. Radek Dvorak. Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Martin Biron. Petr Sykora. Marc Denis. That’s a lot of success and a good amount of hardware on the shelf for this group. Langkow even played with both Iginla and Doan during his career.
But Iginla is the easy pick here. Perhaps one of the greatest players to never win a Stanley Cup, Iginla has plenty of hardware to his name and is sure to add “Hall of Famer” to his accomplishments before too much longer. Four time All-Star. King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Mark Messier Leadership Award. NHL Foundation Player Award. Ted Lindsay Award. Art Ross Trophy. Two Rocket Richard Trophies.
Besides his major NHL accomplishments, Iginla also won two WHL championships and two Memorial Cups. He also added a U20 WJC Gold Medal, World Cup Gold Medal, World Championship Gold Medal, and two Olympic Gold Medals. He only played in one international tournament, the 2006 Olympics, where he failed to win a Gold Medal.
This is definitely one of those picks where the Lightning selected a pretty darn good player, but they ended up missing out on some other really high end players. But if the Lightning had taken Iginla instead of Langkow, we wouldn’t have had the most iconic fight in Lightning history.
Second Round, 4th Pick, 30th Overall
Original Pick: D Mike McBain, 64 GP, 0 goals, 7 assists, 7 points
New Pick: F Jochen Hecht, 833 GP, 186 goals, 277 assists, 463 points
There haven’t been very many good NHLers that have come out of Germany, but Hecht is one of them. Originally selected by the St. Louis Blues, Hecht played for the Blues, Edmonton Oilers, and Buffalo Sabres. When not playing in North America, Hecht played at home in Germany with Adler Mannheim. He played for them prior to being drafted and during the 2004 and 2012 lockouts and for the final three seasons of his career. He had some up and down seasons, but in his prime was consistently in the 40-55 point range.
Third Round, 4th Pick, 56th Overall
Original Pick: F Shane Willis, 174 GP, 31 goals, 43 assists, 74 points
New Pick: F Peter Schaefer, 572 GP, 99 goals, 162 assists, 261 points
There’s not a lot of talent to pick from in our pool. Only Schaefer and Brad Isbister made it to the 500 game mark. There’s also a 200 game goaltender in Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Willis was actually the fourth or fifth best player available to pick from. Originally drafted by the Canucks, Schaefer also played with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins before finishing his career with another short stint with the Canucks in 2010-11 after not playing at all in 2009-10. His best season came in 2005-06 for the Sens as he posted 20 goals and 50 points in 82 games.
Fifth Round, 4th Pick, 108th Overall
TRADE: This isn’t a “take back” trade, but it is just one I want to point out as it is one of only a handful of draft picks that has ever been traded four times before being used. It was originally the Lightnings pick and was traded to the St. Louis Blues with other picks for Pat Jablonski, et al. The Lightning then re-acquired the pick in a trade involving Basil McRae and Doug Corssman going to the Blues and the Lightning getting back Jason Ruff. The Lightning then traded it to the Capitals for Pat Elynuik. Then the Lightning re-acquired the pick by trading away Joe Reekie and getting back Enrico Ciccone and picks.
Original Pick: F Konstantin Golokhvastov, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: G Miikka Kiprusoff, 623 GP, 319-213-71, .912 SV%, 2.49 GAA
Kiprusoff started his NHL career with the San Jose Sharks in 2000-01. He was traded to the Calgary Flames for a 2005 second round pick (used on Marc-Edouard Vlasic) early in the 2003-04 season. He went on a pretty insane run with the Flames, often playing over 70 games in a season. In fact, he played at least 70 games in seven straight seasons from 2005-06 to 2011-12. That streak came to an end with the 2012-13 lockout when he only played in 24 games and retired following the season.
Kiprusoff won the Jennings award and Vezina Trophy in 2005-06, and he also received his only end of the year All-Star nod of his career that season. He won two World Championship silver medals and an Olympic bronze medal with Team Finland.
Sixth Round, 4th Pick, 134th Overall
Original Pick: F Eduard Pershin, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: D Brent Sopel, 658 GP, 44 goals, 174 assists, 218 points
There were not many options to choose from here, and Sopel was the clear stand out as a defenseman. He played for the Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, and Montreal Canadiens over his 12 NHL seasons. He finished out his career with three seasons in the KHL and one season with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL in 2014-15 before retiring.
Seventh Round, 4th Pick, 160th Overall
Original Pick: D Cory Murphy, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: D Stephane Robidas, 937 GP, 57 goals, 201 assists, 258 points
A top four defenseman, Robidas averaged 20:19 TOI in his career. He played for the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. At 37 years old, he signed a three year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but only played 52 games with 8 points in his first season there. He had broken his leg twice during the 2013-14 season and that led to him being unable to play the last two years of his contract.
Eighth Round, 4th Pick, 186th Overall
Original Pick: F Joe Cardarelli, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: D Filip Kuba, 836 GP, 70 goals, 263 assists, 333 points
This was another really easy pick. Of the 21 players available for us to select from, the next highest games played was 18. The next highest point total was 1. Seriously.
Kuba should be known to Lightning fans as he played in Tampa for two seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08. He also played for the Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, and Ottawa Senators. He was consistently a 25-35 point defenseman in his career and averaged 22:57 TOI. His career high in assists and points came in 2008-09 with Ottawa when he recorded 37 assists and 40 points. His career high in goals came in 2006-07 with the Lightning when he recorded 15 goals, the only time he got into the double digits in goals in his career.
Ninth Round, 4th Pick, 212th Overall
Original Pick: G Zac Bierk, 47 GP, 9-20-5, .901 SV%, 3.18 GAA
New Pick: D Danill Markov, 538 GP, 29 goals, 118 assists, 147 points
If not for Markov, we would have stuck with Bierk, even though he didn’t accomplish much in the NHL. Other than Markov, Bierk was the best skater available played in 30 games and recorded 5 points. Markov though had a pretty decent career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, and Detroit Red Wings. Markov was only 30 when he played his last season in the NHL and recorded 16 points in 66 games. He probably could have continued to play in the NHL for longer, but went home to Russia to continue his career. He retired after the 2013-14 season