Bolt Prospects 2011 NHL Entry Draft Preview: Conclusions
Heading into tomorrow night's draft, there's both anticipation and uncertainty for the Lightning. At 27th overall, Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray believes there is a high likelihood the team will get a player it wants. In fact, in an interview with Damian Crisdotero, he noted many teams will be getting players they might have ranked as lottery players due to the wide open nature of this draft beyond the top 10-12 picks. In our own conversations with the Lightning organization, we've learned the team is currently focusing on about a dozen players for the 27th pick, and they feel confident at least one of those 12 players will be available when their turn to come one stage arrives. Of course, the team didn't share that list of 12 players with us, but it does offer us the opportunity for an interesting exercise: who would be on Bolt Prospects' list? Here's a list of a 12 players that are on Bolt Prospects' board for pick 27 at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft:
1.) C Rocco Grimaldi, USNTDP (USA): We believe Grimaldi will have to convert to the wing as a pro, if not sooner at North Dakota, and wing is the least pressing need for the Lightning organization. But, the opportunity to draft a player like Grimaldi rarely happens. There hasn't been a, "the next Martin St. Louis" in the past 10 or so years, and we doubt there will be another player like Grimaldi in another 10. Offensive defensemen and goaltenders can be had any year. The opportunity to draft the super-skilled heir to the franchise's heart-and-soul player won't come along again any time soon.
2.) D Jonas Brodin, Leksand (SWE): This is a safe, safe pick for the Lightning and should net them a 25-35 point a year, solid, minutes eating defenseman. His upside isn't as high as some of the other d-men on our board, but he seems bust-proof because of the maturity of his game.
3.) D Oscar Klefbom, Leksand (SWE): Oscar Klefbom is by no means bust-proof, but he's got the upside to become a #2 defenseman in the organization. We love the chance he could become the perfect second pairing anchor to supplement Victor Hedman on the top pairing.
4.) RW J.T. Miller, USNTDP (USA): Al Murray has mentioned over and over again in pre-draft interviews that the Lightning are first and foremost looking for players with a high degree of character and work ethic. Arguably the hardest working player in this draft is J.T. Miller of the USNTDP. Miller could be the perfect high-energy forechecker to collect and distribute the puck for the multitude of snipers the Lightning already have.
5.) D Joe Morrow, Portland (WHL): What the playoffs demonstrated, particularly before Marc-Andre Bergeron was inserted into the lineup, was how lacking the Lightning are when it comes to puck rushing defensemen. Morrow is the kind of aggressive puck carrying blueliner that could help the Lightning break down the trap teams like the Penguins and Bruins utilized in the postseason.
6.) D Duncan Siemens, Saskatoon (WHL): Worst-case scenario, in drafting Siemens, you get a solid stay-at-home defenseman like Chris Phillips that can play for your team for the next decade. Best-case scenario, if his offensive numbers weren't just a product of being paired with Stefan Elliot, the team could get solid production out of him, too.
7.) C Zack Phillips, St. John (QMJHL): Here's a player that's tough for us to get a read on. Athletically, he's not quite the blue chip prospect we'd hope to get. Still, we can't fight this nagging suspicion he might be another Brad Richards-type who ends up being more than the sum of his parts because of his hockey smarts.
8.) G John Gibson, USNTDP (USA): Gibson's a very solid goaltending prospect in a draft that is otherwise devoid of 1st round caliber talent in net. Drafting Gibson would give the Lightning a goaltender of the future to succeed Dustin Tokarski in that role once Tic, presumably, ascends to the NHL.
9.) D Ryan Sproul, Sault Ste Marie (OHL): Surprise! In Sproul we see a late blooming righty shot defenseman with a lot of athletic gifts who scored 14 goals from the backline on a terrible Greyhounds team. We've been trying to determine this week if he'd be a reach in the 1st round. Apparently, it might not be.
10.) D Connor Murphy, USNTDP (USA): If he didn't have an injury history, he'd be even higher on our list. We liked his father, and Murphy's a chip off the old block with better athletic gifts.
11.) RW Rickard Rakell, Plymouth (OHL): Will he score 20 or more goals consistently? Maybe not. However, at a minimum, this is the kind of hard working checking line player you absolutely must have to be successful in the NHL playoffs. See: Bergenheim, Sean.
12.) RW Tomas Jurco, St. John (QMJHL) Our guilty pleasure, Jurco could be nothing more than a shootout specialist when push comes to shove. But, we see a player with a good sized frame and a willingness to put work in to improve his game. The vouch from Gerard Gallant goes a long way, and imagining a line with Richard Panik's dazzling skill on one wing and Jurco's on the other is captivating to daydream about.
For what it's worth, Bolt Prospects' staff has already participated in two mock drafts, and in complete isolation from one another we selected the same player. In Chad Schnarr's Twitter Mock Draft with Mark Pukalo of TampaBayLightning.com, the Lightning selected J.T. Miller of the USNTDP. Meanwhile, and without any coordination between us, I happened to select (SPOILER ALERT) J.T. Miller of the USNTDP in the blogger's draft held at TheDetroitSportsSite.com. Chad will be releasing another mock draft tomorrow here on Bolt Prospects, but heading into tomorrow night we can confirm that our writing team is definitely in sync and ready to go.