Recap of Tampa Bay Lightning First Round Draft Picks Since 2008


Oct 10, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) against the Florida Panthers during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first-round of the NHL Draft is tonight and the Tampa Bay Lightning has two first round draft picks to play with.

The Lightning have had a lot of success with their first round draft picks in recent years, dating as far back to the selection of Steven Stamkos in 2008.

So, let’s take a look back at all of the Lightning’s first round picks since they selected Stammer.

2008 – Steven Stamkos (1st overall)

Stammer is already one of the best players in franchise history and along with Vincent Lecavalier, is the best draft choice the Lightning have ever made. Stamkos has 233 goals already, good for third in franchise history and he’s still only 24 years old. He’s not just the Bolts’ best and most important player, he’s one of the top five players in the NHL.

2009 – Victor Hedman (2nd overall) and Carter Ashton (29th overall)

Hot on the heels of the Stamkos selection, the Lightning drafted arguably their other most important player the following year. After a solid first four years in the league where he improved year after year, Hedman exploded last season for 13 goals and 42 assists, showing just exactly how good of a player Hedman is. He’s the Bolts’ future on the blue line and is morphing himself into one of the best offensive defenseman in the league.

The Carter Ashton pick however didn’t work out too well for the Lightning. He never played in the NHL for the Bolts and was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012 for Keith Aulie.

2010 – Brett Connolly (6th overall)

The Connolly pick has had mixed results for the Lightning. He hasn’t been able to stick in the NHL for a sustained period of time, but at the same time, he’s too good for the AHL so he’s in a tough spot. Connolly did spend the entire 2011-12 season with the Bolts, playing 68 games and recording 15 points. Since then however, he’s played just 16 NHL games, scoring two goals. Connolly is often linked in trade talks and there’s potential he gets moved during the draft or at some point in the offseason.

2011 – Vladislav Namestnikov (27th overall)

Namestnikov made his NHL debut this past season, appearing in four games going pointless. He’s on the cusp of being a regular in the NHL but with the depth the Lightning have up front, he may have to be patient. Like Connolly though, Namestnikov may be too good for the AHL – he had 48 points in 56 games last season with the Crunch.

2012 – Slater Koekkoek (10th overall) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th overall)

Koekkoek went back to junior for another year after being drafted and he put up 53 points (15 goals) in 62 games for the Windsor Spitfires, which for a defenseman is very impressive. The next logical step for Koekkoek is to spend the 2014-15 season in the AHL with the Crunch and get his pro hockey career underway.

Vasilevskiy has been plying his trade in the KHL the last two years with Salavat and has been very successful. In both seasons, he never had a GAA higher than 2.22 and a save percentage lower than .924. In 28 games last season, he went 14-8-5 while leading Salavat to the Eastern Conference Finals. Vasilevskiy is coming to North America this season and it’s likely he plays with the Crunch but don’t dismiss that he could be Ben Bishop’s back-up in the NHL.

2013 – Jonathan Drouin (3rd overall)

Drouin went back to Halifax in the QMJHL and just continued to light it up (I would know – I’m from Halifax and am a Mooseheads fan). In 46 games last season, Drouin had 108 points, 79 of which were assists. Everything you think you’ve seen of Drouin on TV can’t be fully comprehended until watching him in person. He’s truly special. Lightning fans will get to see him soon as he’s a lock to be in the NHL this upcoming season.