The main takeaway from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup Championship is to draft well, even in the late rounds.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a stacked team. The New York Islanders saw that first hand during their Eastern Conference Finals series with the eventual Stanley Cup champion.
And when a new Stanley Cup Champion is crowned 30 other teams think: “How can we do that?”
For me, the main takeaway from the Lightning’s championship is draft well. The Lightning’s roster for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals was primarily filled through the draft. Of the 20 players on the roster, nine were drafted by the Lightning over an eight-year period.
Hitting at the Draft
The Lightning have quality up and down the lineup from Brayden Point up top, Victor Hedman on the blue line, and Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. Of all that talent only Hedman and Vasilevskiy were been drafted in the first round.
Victor Hedman – 2nd OVR 2009
Andrei Vasilevskiy – 19th OVR 2012
Alexander Volkov – 48th OVR 2017
Nikita Kucherov – 58th OVR 2011
Anthony Cirelli – 72nd OVR 2015
Alex Killorn – 77th OVR 2007
Brayden Point – 79th OVR 2014
Cedric Paquette – 101st OVR 2012
Ondrej Palat – 208th OVR 2011
That list doesn’t include Steven Stamkos (1st OVR 2008), Mitchell Stephens (33rd OVR 2015), and Mathieu Joseph (120th OVR 2015) because they didn’t play in Game 6. Include them on the team and the percentage of the roster pulled out of the draft goes from 45% to 60%.
Look at the players the Lightning were able to pull in the third round. Specifically Brayden Point. Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe trophy but Brayden Point wasn’t far off. His 14 goals and 33 points in 23 games are a pretty strong testament to how important he was to the Lightning. Looking back at their series with the Islanders, the two games the Bolt lost were when Point wasn’t in the lineup.
Now, most teams are built through the draft. But those teams aren’t getting hits in the later rounds of the draft like the Lightning. Just look at the Islanders. Their Game 6 roster of the ECF had the following draft picks:
Scott Mayfield – 34th OVR 2011
Devon Toews – 108th OVR 2015
Matt Martin – 148th 2008
Anders Lee – 151st 2009
With nine of their own draft picksoin the team, the ratio is the same as the Lightning, but the difference lies in where those picks were taken. The Islanders have five first-round picks in the lineup, six if you count Michael Dal Colle. For the Lightning that count is three when you add Steven Stamkos.
To The Scouts
Without a first-round pick this year and no second-round pick in the next two drafts, the Isles scouting staff will hope to find a few gems as the Lightning have done in the later rounds.
The Islanders already have organizational stability and one of the better coaches to ever run a bench in the NHL, they just need more talent to complete the puzzle. On October 6 and 7, they (and Lou) get to work with the 2020 Entry Draft.