The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t start the day with a fourth round pick, but managed to sneak back into the round when they traded a 2022 Fourth Round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for the 126th overall pick this season. With the pick they selected Dylan Duke from the US National Developmental Program team (the same program they selected previous pick Roman Schmidt from).
Duke is an 18-year-old left-winger that is listed at 5’10” and 180 lbs. Prior to the draft he seemed to be a consensus second-round pick among the prognosticators so the Lightning brain trust likely saw some value in trading back into the middle rounds to select him. The Strongsville, Ohio native checks off a lot of the boxes the Lightning like in their prospects. He is a high-energy player that has the ability to work in the corners and establish a presence in front of the net despite not being the largest gentleman on the ice.
His willingness to play in front of the net helps him score as he led the USNDT U18 team with 29 goals in 50 games last season. He also added another 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 5 games in the U18 World Juniors.
He doesn’t have high-end speed and his skating could use some work, but that is something you can say about 75% of the players selected. He is scheduled to matriculate to the University of Michigan (I hear they have a pretty good hockey program) so there is time to work on his skating and see how he fairs against a step-up in competition.
“A quick and rambunctious goal scorer who buzzes the offensive zone from start to finish, Duke considers any opponent to be a target of opportunity. He’s one of the more physical snipers available in this draft and Duke also contributes on the penatly kill.” - Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
“Duke is willing to do all of the dirty work needed to succeed on the ice. He plays tough along the board, lays down hits, shirks off opponents as he drives the net, and will post up directly in front of the goalie to bang in rebounds. So while he may not be that sexy 30 goal-scoring forward, he still has the qualities of a top-end prospect.” -Eugene Helfrick, The Hockey Writers
Dylan Duke will never not score goals from the net-front position. He's already picked up one such tally for the Americans in this game. #2021NHLDraft @umichhockey— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) May 2, 2021
Team USA leads 1-0 over Finland early at the #U18Worlds. pic.twitter.com/XdG8lntbZ3