Draft Day Two: Who's Left
Like I said, the only thing that's for certain in this draft is that nothing's for certain. For those of you who sat through the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft Friday night (a bizarre decision by NHL higher ups hell bent on running the league into the ground, I think) you witnessed one of the more scrambled draft boards in recent memory as several teams went well off the board with one of the top 30 selections in the draft. For the Lightning, they made an appearance, but little else, and with no guarantee the Panthers won't exercise their option on pick #47 (the Gratton re-re-acquisition) the Lightning might not have much to do until the 75th and 77th overall picks in the third round. Still, if you like speculation, here's speculation. In no particular order, here are some of the top forward prospects still remaining in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft heading into day two:
LW Maxim Mayorov, 6'2" 187 lbs, Leninogorsk (RUS2)
28 GP, 6-4-10, 6 PIM
If this were still the Rick Dudley era, I'd move all in on Mayorov who was considered by many a mid first round pick. He has great speed, good hands and a good sized frame. Doesn't know a back check from a back scratcher apparently and I doubt the Lightning would want to deal with more contractual headaches with the lack of a Russian transfer deal.
C Keven Vellieux, 6'4" 202 lbs, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
70 GP, 20-35-55, 53 PIM
With his size, Vellieux seems to fit the Lightning mold. That said, the Lightning's mold hasn't been turning out a lot of quality lately.
C Joakim Andersson, 6'2" 198 lbs, Frolunda J20 (SWEjr)
27 GP, 15-13-28, 52 PIM
If the Lightning had held onto the 16th pick I think Andersson would've been a guy I'd put a couple of stars by on my list. He's a good all around player with a work ethic that screams Lightning player. Maybe not the best solution for a scorer, but I'm surprised he didn't go in the first round.
LW Luca Cunti, 6'0" 185 lbs, GCK (SUI NLB)
5 GP, 1-1-2, 0 PIM
Cunti has a lot of speed and a lot of skill, but he's slipped because Switzerland is not a proven commodity when it comes to developing NHL talent. He hasn't proven much at the men's level in his home country either.
LW Mike Hoeffel, 6'1" 175 lbs, USA(USNTDP)
44 GP, 16-7-23, 28 PIM
He missed about 1/3 of the year with a knee injury which has hurt his stock, but he's headed to the University of Minnesota in the Fall. Above average skater, below average hockey sense.
LW Bill Sweatt, 6'0" 180 lbs, Colorado College (WCHA)
30 GP, 9-17-26, 18 PIM
Sweatt is a world class speedster and his stats as a freshman are nothing to sneeze at. His offensive game still needs to develop, but he's the best skater in this draft.
RW Michal Repik, 5'10" 180 lbs, Vancouver (WHL)
56 GP, 24-31-55, 56 PIM
Diminuitive pure scorer played on a line of diminuitive pure scorers for Vancouver and was absolutely lethal in the WHL playoffs. He scored the GWG in the Memorial Cup final for Vancouver and has drawn comparisons to Milan Hedjuk. Where do I sign?
LW Max Gratchev, 5'10" 196 lbs, Rimouski (QMJHL)
70 GP, 35-42-77, 88 PIM
Born in Novosibirsk. Raised in the US. Plays junior hockey in Canada. And he goes to the net hard for a little guy.
C Maxime Tanguay, 5'11" 175 lbs, Rimouski (QMJHL)
54 GP, 24-36-60, 32 PIM
The pedigree is excellent. He's Alex Tanguay's little brother. The consistency isn't there yet, however. But he's got the skill and he's got someone to call to talk him through the transition to pro hockey.
RW Akim Aliu, 6'3" 209 lbs, Sudbury (OHL)
53 GP, 20-22-42, 104 PIM
Aliu has first round talent as an emerging power forward. Unfortunately he also had disciplinary problems that led to his temporary dismissal from the Wolves at one point this season. It's hard to see the Lightning taking a player with this many character question marks.