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2006 Entry Draft Preview: The Defensemen

In our ongoing series previewing the Lightning and the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, today we will move from the goaltenders out to the defensemen. USNTDP defenseman Erik Johnson is considered to be a virtual lock for the #1 overall selection in this draft, but beyond the big Minnesota born blueliner there is a huge drop off. In fact, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that Johnson will be the only defenseman who is a lottery pick this year. From pick 15 on, however, there are several defensemen who will be selected in the second half of the first round. With [url=matt-smaby]Matt Smaby[/url], [url=vladimir-mihalik]Vladimir Mihalik[/url], [url=andy-rogers]Andy Rogers[/url] and [url=mike-egener]Mike Egener[/url] already in the fold the Lightning are very well stocked with big, mobile, physical stay-at-home defensemen. Where they are perilously thin, however, is in defensemen who can fill more of an offensive role. Bolt Prospects only rates only one offensive defenseman prospect in its top 25, and that is Maine blueliner Mike Lundin who checks in at 22 and who some here on the Bolt Prospects staff (me) believe will struggle to get a contract next summer. At the NHL level, Dan Boyle has two years remaining on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Boyle leaves, the Lightning will need a tempo pushing offensive defenseman to take his place if they are to continue their successes. For that reason, Bolt Propspects ranks offensive defenseman as a primary need heading into the draft on June 24th in Vancouver.

2006 Entry Draft Preview: The Goaltenders

We've already begun to shift gears at Bolt Prospects into coverage for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by examining organizational strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and philosophies. Today we'll take the next step on the road to June 24th in Vancouver by starting to examining some of the Lightning's potential options at their pick, 15th in the first round. First up under the microscope are the goaltenders. It should be noted this is generally considered a down year between the pipes for draft prospects with no dominant top tier NHL prospects on the level of recent draftees like Roberto Luongo or Karri Lehtonen or even Rick Dipietro and M.A. Fleury. There is, however, some depth in terms of goaltender in this class if the Lightning choose to wait beyond the first round pick to try and land another goaltending prospect. In studying up on this draft it is clear the Lightning may have the opportunity to grab the first goalie off the board, if they so choose to do so, and it also appears that decision will come down to two prospects: Jonathan Bernier of Lewiston of the QMJHL and Riku Helenius of Ilves Jr. A in Finland. Bolt Prospects rates goaltending as a secondary need in this draft, but if the Lightning feel either player is the best player available at the 15 spot they could and should grab him.

2006 NHL Entry Draft Preview: Lightning Strengths, Weaknesses, Tendencies and Philosophies

[i][b]Update 6/21:[/b] I'm going to sticky this at the top of the site until draft day so it doesn't get lost. I'm also going to provide the links to our draft capsules on this page: [url=http://www.forecaster.ca/tbo/hockey/draft-team.cgi?TB&DraftID=13]Lightning Picks[/url] 1st Rd, 15th Overall: G Riku Helenius, 6'3" 202 lbs, Ilves Jr. (FIN Jr.) 3rd Round, 78th Overall: D Kevin Quick, 6'0" 175 lbs, Salisbury (USHS) 6th Round, 168th Overall: D Dane Crowley, 6'2" 210 lbs, Swift Current (WHL) 7th Round, 198th Overall: LW Denis Kazionov, 6'3" 187 lbs, Tver (RUS2) [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1143]Goaltenders[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1144]Defensemen[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1145]Forwards Pt. 1[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1147]Forwards Pt. 2[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1150]Forwards Pt. 3[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1153]Forwards Pt. 4[/url] [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/1162]Pete's Mock Draft[/url] For those who don't have the time to read the whole article, scroll down to the summary at the end.[/i]

Report: Russian Hockey Federation Agrees to IIHF-NHL Transfer Pact

According to Russian Hockey Digest, President Vladislav Tretiak and the Russian Hockey Federation have agreed to the IIHF-NHL Transfer Agreement. TSN in Canada is also reporting a signing will come on June 16. Such a signing would pave the way for prospects such as the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin to come to North America this summer. The Lightning currently have 10 prospects in Russia:

Redline Report Mock Draft

Although my copy of Redline's 2006 Draft Guide has yet to show up on my front stoop, Redline [url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/columnist/woodlief/2006-mock-draft.htm]has released their mock draft online for USAToday.[/url] Redline has the Lightning selecting goaltender Jonathan Bernier out of Lewiston of the QMJHL. Bolt Prospects will have more on Bernier and all the potential 2006 picks in the coming weeks.
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