Draft Day Two Preview

The Lightning enter the 2018 NHL Draft with seven picks, but without a first round pick due to the trade deadline deal with the Rangers for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. Predicting who the Bolts will pick with each of their Round 2 through 7 picks, and the Kings 7th rounder is an impossible task. But, we can throw out some players we think the Bolts might view as possibilities. As always, the Lightning draft team will say they are drafting best player available, but we will be looking at organization needs in the prospect system for much of the context of this preview.

The greatest organizational depth need is clearly between the pipes, with just Connor Ingram as the lone prospect goaltender in the system. At BoltProspects, we'd really like to see Al Murray and Steve Yzerman spring for a netminder with the Lightning's first pick at #59 late in the 2nd Round. It's hard to believe Drummondville goalie Olivier Rodrique still being available that late, but he's arguably the best goalie in the draft. He has a high compete level, is athletic, and has #1 upside. Instead, it's more likely another QMJHL goalie will realistically be available late in the 2nd, and that is Cape Breton backstop Kevin Mandolese. And honestly, Mandolese is more of a prototypical Franz Jean style netminder anyway. A big body and has is well ahead of the curve for his age in position and rebounds. At BoltProspects, we believe Mandolese is the best and most logical pick at #59, barring some higher end talent falling into their laps.

However, spending a Top-60 pick on a goalie is sometimes a difficult decision to pull the trigger, especially if like Mandolese, he's not a flashy clear-cut projected starter like Rodrique would be. If the Bolts are gun shy about spending a Top-60 on a goalie, then I'd look for names like Finnish goalie Justus Annunen or David Tendeck (Vancouver - WHL) as other possible Franz Jean type candidates that would likely be lurking late late in the 3rd or 4th rounds. A late round flyer could be Chicoutimi goaltender Zach Bouthillier.

Outside of a netminder late in the 2nd round, perhaps the organization would look to backfill some of the holes left by the deadline trades, namely former prospects Brett Howden and Libor Hajek. Granted, those two players were 1st round and high 2nd round talent, and you aren't likely to find a Howden or Hajek at #59, but we are thinking more generally of a two-way playmaking center or a two-way defenseman with some budding offensive upside. In that vein, we have our eye on big two-way center Ivan Morozov, who played last season for the KHL's Yugra team's development club, but was traded at the beginning of May to the SKA St. Petersburg organization and a possible candidate for the CHL Import Draft. He already has the defensive end tools and is an adept playmaker, but also sports a decent set of hands and plays in all situations. On the blueline, we have our eye on University of Denver bound Slava Demin, Owen Sound's Sean Durzi, and the underrated Moscovite Alexander Romanov. Of the three, only Durzi possesses the coveted right-hand shot and while he doesn't fit the two-way blueliner mold, he might very well be the best power-play QB in the draft and you don't sleep on righty D's that shoot and move the puck like that if he makes it to the end of the 2nd. Demin already plays like a vet in his own end and he'll be a teammate of fellow Bolt prospect Cole Guttman next year at Denver. He's not quite Hajek, but he has room to develop into that type of player and he will be on a splendid development path. Romanov might be stretch at #59 but he's exactly that type of underrated Russian that Al Murray and crew have taken in the past like Lipanov, Volkov, and to a certain degree Sosunov.

Looking beyond the #59 pick late in the 2nd, the waters get very murky, but I feel we have some names that might possibly be guys the Lightning would be interested in, and also are players that have caught our eye. Former Bolt prospect Tanner Richard will be an NHL free agent on July 1 with the Lightning formally losing their rights to the Swiss player, so it seems fitting that the Bolts might be eyeing Davos power right-winger Nando Eggenberger, who fits the Adam Erne mold with great size, skating, and hands. And rumor has it, he wants to come to North America. Another massive power forward is left winger Ivan Muranov, who reminisces of the package combination of Evgeni Artykhin, and his contract with CSKA Moscow was recently dissolved, making him a free agent. Don't sleep on big Connor Roberts out of the OHL's Flint team who has loads of potential to go along with a 6'4" 215 lbs body.

Other forwards to keep an eye in the mid to late rounds include Damien Giroux, Demetrios Koumontzis, and Jack Drury. Giroux, out of Saginaw in the OHL, is a demon on the forecheck and has a motor that never stops, making him a surefire pest for the opposition. Drury makes his living in the greasy area down low, and all he does in the USHL is score, racking up 65 points in 56 games. He's headed to Alex Killorn's alma mater, Harvard, and he plays the same kind of game but with less size. Koumontzis was Bolt prospect Sammy Walker's linemate at Edina high school this season, who along with Drury, have some pretty high hockey IQ to go along with some significant playmaking skills. Koumontzis would be a project given his small size, but that's what the NCAA is for and this organization is good at developing those kinds of players.

Along with Eggenberger, former Bolt prospect Christopher Paquette's teammate at Peterborough is sniper Pavel Gogolev. Like current Lightning prospect Dennis Yan, Gogolev is a bit one-dimensional as a pure goal-scorer, but those are the skills you generally can't teach. Will Yzerman dip back into his Peterborough past and select another Pete? Gogolev is Russian after all. If you are looking for the next potential Yanni Gourde, then Owen Sound's Aidan Dudas is your guy. He's tiny but loaded with playmaking skill, compete ethic, and off the charts energy. The Bolts should focus on bulking up with size in the pipeline, but Dudas might be a player you can't pass on, especially when you know you are so good at developing these sorts of forwards.

One last player to keep an eye out if you are looking for a middleweight that fights like a heavyweight, and that is Nick Perbix's teammate in Omaha, Jack Randl. He's on his way to a great program at the University of Michigan, after putting up 20 goals in 49 games to go along 62 PIMs. He's one tough customer, but also no chump.

Pete Choquette contributed to this article