Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning notes: Bolts land third pick in draft
The Lightning did not win the NHL draft lottery, but the better news is they didn't lose.
Tampa Bay will retain the third overall pick when the draft is held on June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
The Colorado Avalanche won the first pick in the league's weighted lottery system and will move up one place to the top spot while the Florida Panthers, who finished last in the 30-team league, drop to the second spot.
Because Colorado originally held the second spot, Tampa Bay — which had a 14.2 percent chance of winning the first overall pick — did not drop out of the third spot as scouts consider the top three available prospects to be above the rest of the draft class.
While D Seth Jones, the son of former Denver Nuggets player Popeye Jones, is considered a near lock to be taken by the Avalanche, the Lightning figure to be in line for a pair of top-end forwards from Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — C Nathan MacKinnon or LW Jonathan Drouin.
“We think we'll get a pretty good, young prospect,'' Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said. “There appears to be a couple of young players that might be ready to play in the NHL next year, but the reality is you don't know that until you get into training camp and the early part of the season and see how they look at that point.''
Drouin was named the QMJHL MVP and best professional prospect this season after scoring 41 goals and 105 points in 49 games. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound left wing had 17 goals and 26 points in 17 playoff games last season.
MacKinnon, who hails from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia — the same hometown as Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby — had 32 goals and 75 points in 75 games this season. He has nine goals and 28 points in 12 playoff games for Halifax, which is in the QMJHL finals.
“What makes Nathan stand out is that he has a real quickness with his read and react,'' NHL Director of Central Scouting Don Marr said. “His hockey sense — how he sees the ice and his vision. That is something special in a player. He is continuing to physically mature, but already he's got a lot of grit in his game and he is a competitive player.''
Stamkos doing OK C Steven Stamkos received a bit of a scare at the end of Saturday's season finale against Florida.
While carrying the puck along the right wall, Stamkos was ridden into the boards by Florida D Filip Kuba and ended up back in the locker room to be looked at team medical trainers. There was concern that there might be damage to Stamkos' knee and that it would prevent him from participating in the upcoming World Championships.
But Stamkos underwent an MRI and was cleared.
“Everything is good, so I'm heading to Sweden (today) and I'm excited,'' Stamkos said. “At the time you don't know, but I had some doctors check it out and everything was good so it should be no problem.''
Stamkos said it turned out to be more of a bruise and the knee was hyperextended a bit, which was the primary cause for concern.
Still staying C Vinny Lecavalier will no doubt hear his name brought up once again this summer in the rumor mill. But Lecavalier, who has a full no-move clause in his contract, which means the Lightning would need his permission to trade him or even place him on waivers, reiterated his desire to remain with the franchise that drafted him first overall in 1998.
“I want to be here. I want to play here the rest of my career,'' he said. “I've always said that and I'm going to keep saying it. I've been here for 15 years now and I'm proud to be a part of this organization.''