Bolt Prospects 2012 NHL Entry Draft Coverage: Defensemen

As uncertain as things have traditionally been for the Lightning between the pipes, the defenseman position may be even more unsettled at this point in the offseason. After cheating father time for much of the 2011-2012 season, age caught up to many of the Lightning's veteran defensemen in 2012-2013. Mattias Ohlund may never play another NHL game after the 35 year old's knee finally gave out after over 900 games of NHL service.

Bolt Prospects 2012 NHL Entry Draft Coverage: Goaltenders

Bolt Prospects' draft coverage begins with the goaltending position, which has been a perennial sore spot since the founding of the franchise. With the exception of short runs by Darren Puppa in the early days of the team and Nikolai Khabibulin leading up to the team's Stanley Cup run in 2003-2004, the Lightning have always seemed to face uncertainty between the pipes.

Bolt Prospects 2012 NHL Entry Draft Coverage: Introduction

With the Lightning prospect season finally completed, it is now time to turn our attention to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. While the team's prospect system enjoyed unprecedented success, the team's struggles at the NHL level last season left the Lightning with a draft pick bonanza after a bevy of pre-deadline deals. Heading into the draft, the Lightning currently holds a pair of first round picks, and at least one second round pick following the trade of picks 37 and 50 to Nashville in the Anders Lindback trade.

Lightning Will Pick 10th

The Edmonton Oilers have won the NHL Draft Lottery, earning them the right to move up one slot from second to first in the draft order. The Lightning's draft position is unchanged at the 10 pick.

In related news, Columbus fans are seething mad.

Lightning Draft Position Heading Into Draft Lottery

The Lightning will head into the draft lottery in the 10th position. The lottery drawing will be held on April 10th, with the results announced by the Deputy Commissioner on the NBC Sports Network at 8 pm.

The Lightning have a 2.1% chance of winning the lottery, which would enable them to move up 4 spots to the 6th spot in the draft. The Lightning also have a 3.9% chance of falling to the 11th pick. It's a 94% likelihood, however, that 10th is indeed where the team will find its draft pick heading into June.

The Lightning also hold Detroit's first round pick (pick 23, as of right now), Minnesota's second round pick (pick 37), their own second round pick (pick 40), Philadelphia's second round pick (pick 52, as of right now), and possibly Florida's second round pick (pick 55, as of right now), although the Panthers have the option to take the pick and give the Lightning their 2013 second round pick, and GM's rarely defer taking a pick in these situations. Playoff teams that advance to their respective conference finals are resituated in the bottom 4 picks of the draft, which is why the draft position of Detroit, Philadelphia, and Florida may yet change.

Several of these picks are likely to be packaged in a trade for a goaltender this offseason, but for those that are retained, BoltProspects' research has shown in the past that roughly 70% of NHLer's come from the top-60 picks of the draft. The Lightning's current organizational needs lean heavily towards defense, where Everett's Ryan Murphy, Red Deer's Matthew Dumba, and the USNTDP's Jacob Trouba headline a very deep crop of blueliners.

Nikita Kucherov: Pre-Draft Reviews

Nikita Kucherov
Position: Right Wing
Shoots/Catches: Left
Height: 5.11
Weight: 165
Born: 06/17/1993
Age: 18
Hometown: Maikop, RUS
Acquired: Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2 (#58) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Last Team: CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Projects As: Scoring liner
Rankings: CSS 17 (International skaters), TSN 56 (overall), THN 95 (overall), Red Line Report 90 (overall)

CSKA Moscow (KHL): 8 GP, 0-2-2, 0 PIM, -3
Krasnaya Armiya (MHL): 41 GP, 27-31-58, 81 PIM
Russia (U18): 7 GP, 11-10-21 (Tournament record for points)

Vladimir Namestnikov:Pre-Draft Reviews

With their first pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Lightning chose Russian center Vladislav Namestnikov of the London Knights.

Here’s what scouts and prospect followers have said about the newest Bolt prospect:

Name: Vladislav Namestnikov
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 6.00
Weight: 166
Born: 11/22/1992, Voskresensk, Russia
Last Team: London (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 11 (NA Skaters), RLR 25 (Overall), THN 36 (Overall), TSN 31 (Overall)

Stats: 68 games played, 30-38-68, 49 PIM, +12
Playoffs: 6 games played, 1-4-5, 6 PIM

The Best of What's Left

The Lightning made their 1st round selection tonight, picking Vladislav Namestnikov of the London Knights. Heading into tomorrow, though, there's a ton of talent still left on the board, and the chance that a 1st round caliber player could slip as far as the Lightning's pick at 58th overall. Here are the top 20 picks still available for tomorrow's rounds 2-7:

Bolt Prospects Mock Draft

The 2011 draft is one of the most difficult in years to project, so doing a mock draft would not be the wisest decision. But hey, everyone else is doing it, and if everyone else jumped off a cliff, we’re going to assume it’s perfectly safe with no harmful consequences.

As a team, we couldn’t agree on a few of these picks, so we’ve provided both picks in some places and some of the conversation. Enjoy.

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:

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