Lightning to pick 2nd in June draft
There were no changes among the top five teams in the running for the No. 1 draft pick, which means the Lightning, which finished 29th in the 30-team league, will pick second behind the Islanders at the June 26-27 draft at Montreal. The Avalanche will pick third, Thrashers fourth and Kings fifth.
What does this mean for Tampa Bay? The conventional wisdom says this makes it almost a lock it gets Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman, who NHL Central Scouting ranks as the No. 1 European prospect. The Islanders are believed to be much more in the market for a goal-scoring forward, which means London Knights sharpshooter John Tavares is most likely in their sights.
"If you didn't have one but have the ability to pick the other one, you go home happy," Lightning GM Brian Lawton said.
As for Hedman, 18, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder, who plays for Modo of the Swedish elite league and is supposed to be the best Swedish defenseman since Nicklas Lidstrom, he said in an interview on Versus, "My goal is to play in the NHL next year. I think I'm ready for it."
He has seven goals, 21 points and 52 penalty minutes in 43 games.
Then again, it's not guaranteed the Lightning ends up making that pick. Lawton has said he would be "open-minded" about listening to trade proposals.
"We are definitely in the game as far as having the first or second pick," he said. "It's incredibly valuable. Options are plentiful, and that's what you covet."
Here is the drafting order among the 14 non-playoff teams: 1. Islanders; 2. Lightning; 3. Avalanche; 4. Thrashers; 5. Kings; 6. Coyotes; 7. Maple Leafs; 8. Stars; 9. Senators; 10. Oilers; 11. Predators; 12. Wild; 13. Sabres; 14. Panthers.