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 its 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 end of this series is within sight. We’ve made it all the way back to the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Just one more to go after this. The Lightning ended up with the third overall pick and made 11 picks in total, with three players making it to the NHL. The first overall pick, Alexandre Daigle was a decent player, but didn’t become a superstar. Then there was Chris Pronger, the last defenseman to win the Hart Trophy. He was one of the best defensemen in his time in the league, though his career was cut short by concussions. He was also a controversial one, having been suspended eight times in his career.
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, 3rd Pick, 3rd Overall
Original Pick: F Chris Gratton, 1,092 GP, 214 goals, 354 assists, 568 points
New Pick: F Paul Kariya, 989 GP, 402 goals, 587 assists, 989 points
Kariya suffered a number of concussions throughout his career that impacted his performance. While two Lady Byng trophies were the only postseason hardware Kariya brought home in his career, he was a first team All-Star three times and a second team All-Star twice. He also topped 100 points in a season twice in the NHL and had another season of 99 points. Oh, and he scored 100 points in 39 games in his freshman year with the University of Maine while leading them to an NCAA championship.
Kariya also participated twice in the Olympics for Team Canada, winning a Silver Medal in 1994 and Gold Medal in 2002. He added a Gold medal at the U20 World Junior Championships and a Gold and Silver Medal at the World Championships. In 2018, Kariya was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Second Round, 3rd Pick, 29th Overall
Original Pick: G Tyler Moss, 30 GP, 6-16-1, .901 SV%, 3.25 GAA
New Pick: D Bryan McCabe, 1,135 GP, 145 goals, 383 assists, 528 points
McCabe was a highly offensive defenseman coming out of the draft. It took him two more years in the WHL prior to making his NHL debut with the new York Islanders. His best years came later in his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he topped out at 19 goals, 49 assists, and 68 points in 2005-06. His best finish in Norris trophy voting was 4th when he was also a second team All-Star. McCabe averaged 24:23 TOI over his career.
Third Round, 3rd Pick, 55th Overall
Original Pick: F Allan Egeland, 17 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
New Pick: F Vinny Prospal, 1,108 GP, 255 goals, 510 assists, 765 points
Do I really have to introduce Vinny Prospal to you? While he ended up missing out on the Lightning’s Stanley Cup in 2003-04, Prospal spent a lot of time in Tampa Bay playing in 468 games and recording 371 points for the Lightning. Prospal lasted a long time in the league making his debut in 1996-97 at 21 years old and played through the 2012-13 season at age 37. Vinny Prospal’s son was born in Tampa and Prospal returned to live in Tampa after his retirement. He coached the Tampa Scorpions which his son played on. He spent the past two seasons coaching in the Czech Republic.
Fourth Round, 3rd Pick, 81st Overall
Original Pick: F Marian Kacir, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Eric Daze, 601 GP, 226 goals, 172 assists, 398 points
Jamal Mayers was also available with this selection and had a longer career with 915 games played. However, he was a fourth line forward and only managed 219 points in his career with 90 goals. Daze, on the other hand, was quite a goal scorer. He hit the 30 goal mark four times in his career including a career high of 38 goals. His best season came in 2001-02 when he recorded 38 goals and 70 points. He also never finished a full season with more assists than goals.
Fifth Round, 3rd Pick, 107th Overall
Original Pick: D Ryan Brown, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Miroslav Satan, 1,050 GP, 363 goals, 372 assists, 735 points
A year after being drafted, Satan played for Team Slovakia in the 1994 Olympic Games, scoring nine goals and nine points in eight games to lead the tournament in goals scored. However, Slovakia failed to medal in the Olympics. Satan made his NHL debut in 1995-96 with the Edmonton Oilers after a year of playing in the minor leagues. He spent most of his career with the Buffalo Sabres before finishing his NHL career with the New York Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately, he never fulfilled his destiny of playing for the New Jersey Devils.
Satan did manage to win the Stanley Cup in his second to last NHL season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. The final seasons of his career were spent playing with HC Slovan Bratislava as they transitioned from the Slovakian men’s league to the KHL.
Sixth Round, 3rd Pick, 133rd Overall
Original Pick: F Kiley Hill, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Darcy Tucker, 947 GP, 215 goals, 261 assists, 476 points
Originally selected by the Montreal Canadiens, Tucker won three WHL Championships and three Memorial Cups with the Kamloops Blazers before making his professional debut. After a 93 point campaign in the AHL in 1995-96, he made the move full time to the NHL the following season with the Canadiens. Tucker was traded to the Lightning in the middle of the 1997-98 season. He was once again traded during the 1999-00 season to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his one full season with the Lightning in the middle, he scored 21 goals and 43 points. Tucker was an effective forward scoring 20 goals six times in his career and at least 30 points in nine points.
Seventh Round, 3rd Pick, 159th Overall
Original Pick: D Mathieu Raby, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Andrew Brunette, 1,109 GP, 268 goals, 465 assists, 733 points
There were two pretty good options here, but not much else. Todd Marchant also surpassed 1,000 games getting to 1,195 games in his career. However, Brunette posted better numbers through his career. His best season came in 2006-07 when he recorded 83 points in 82 games. Brunette played well into his mid 30s and even recorded 61 points in his age-36 season.
Eighth Round, 3rd Pick, 185th Overall
Original Pick: F Ryan Nauss, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: G Manny Legace, 365 GP, 187-99-41, .912 SV%, 2.41 GAA
Legace had a pretty good career, but didn’t make it to the NHL until he was 25 and didn’t become a full time player there until 2000-01 at age 27 with the Detroit Red Wings. He was never a top goaltender in the NHL, but was a solid goalie that spent a few years as a starter. He was also a member of Team Canada for the 1994 Olympics when the Olympics was still made up of amateur players. He never played, but the team won a Silver Medal. He also won a Gold Medal the previous season at the U20 World Junior Championships with Team Canada.
Ninth Round, 3rd Pick, 211th Overall
Original Pick: D Alexandre Laporte, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Pavol Demitra, 848 GP, 304 goals, 464 assists, 768 points
This was another situation of picking a player with a shorter career, but with much higher offensive output. Originally a pick of the Ottawa Senators, he only played part time in the NHL his first three professional seasons, spending most of his time dominating the AHL. It took until 1997-98 for him to break into the NHL full time after another season of minor league play.
As a rookie, Demitra put up 22 goals and 52 points in 61 games for the St. Louis Blues. He followed that up with a 37 goal, 89 point season. He also won the Lady Byng in 1999-00. His best season game when he recorded 93 points in 2002-03. He put up at least 30 goals in three seasons and 20 goals in 10 seasons. He had a slow start to his career, but finished strong and played well into his 30s.
Tenth Round, 3rd Pick, 237th Overall
Original Pick: D Brett Duncan, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: D Kimmo Timonen, 1,108 GP, 117 goals, 454 assists, 571 points
This was a very easy pick to make. Timmonen didn’t come over from Finland until 1998-99 with the Nashville Predators. It took a little time for him to find his groove, but he settled in as a consistent 40+ point defenseman for most of the rest of his career. He won a Cup in 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks and then retired from hockey.
Timonen’s resume also includes a Olympic Silver, three Olympic Bronzes, and three World Championship Silvers. He never won a Gold Medal in an international competition.
Eleventh Round, 3rd Pick, 263rd Overall
Original Pick: F Mark Szoke, never appeared in NHL
New Pick: F Scott Nichol, 662 GP, 56 goals, 71 assists, 127 points
Not much of a scorer, Nichol played mostly a bottom line role in the NHL. He never managed to hit 20 points in an NHL season, though he got close with 19 points in 2009-10 for the San Jose Sharks.