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:
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, weâ€™re going to assume itâ€™s perfectly safe with no harmful consequences.
As a team, we couldnâ€™t agree on a few of these picks, so weâ€™ve provided both picks in some places and some of the conversation. Enjoy.
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:
Bolt Prospects participated in a live Twitter mock draft this afternoon with Mark Pukalo (@mpukalo) of Tampabaylightning.com. Mark is a former 20-year sportswriter in the Northeast who now free-lances for the Lightningâ€™s official web site.
Bolt Prospects had the odd-numbered picks; Mark the evens.
Results on the flip:
The undisputed strength of the Lightning organization going into the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has to be the wing positions, and particularly right wing. At that position, the Lightning have not less than three bona fide, blue chip NHL prospects in Brett Connolly, Carter Ashton, and Richard Panik. Those are three players that have drawn serious comparisons to current NHL players like Patrick Marleau, Ryan Malone, and Marian Hossa, respectively. Additional depth is provided by left winger Mattias Ritola, who spent much of last season with the big club in Tampa Bay, and versatile centermen Alex Killorn and Jimmy Mullin, who can also play left wing and right wing, respectively. As a consequence, Bolt Prospects ranks the wing positions as the least pressing need heading into the draft.
Murphy's Law, of course, dictates that the wing positions might be the deepest of all in the waters the Lightning will be drafting in at 27th overall in the 1st round. We have identified not less than 16 players we feel might be legitimate options for the Lightning to select at that pick, reflecting a fascinating cross section of options: snipers, slick puck handlers, hard working heart-and-soulers, and physical, nasty experts in the fistic arts: