Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton reiterates keeping No. 2 draft pick is likely
Regardless of what the Islanders do with the No. 1 draft pick, the Tampa Bay Lightning seems more determined than ever to use the second pick rather than trade. That is what general manager Brian Lawton indicated in a brief discussion about what might happen June 26-27 in Montreal.
"Short of moving mountains," Lawton said, "there's not much to cause us to deal."
That is a bit of a step up from the last time Lawton discussed the pick, when he indicated the team was more inclined to keep the pick than trade it. It also seems to override recent speculation the team could trade down to acquire a top-line defenseman if the Islanders chose defenseman Victor Hedman at No. 1. Tampa Bay is believed to covet Hedman, and most still seem to believe New York will pick sharpshooter John Tavares. But it seems more than ever the Lightning's goal of building with youth (not to mention how much cheaper it will be to sign a pick rather than pay a veteran blue-liner) means it is much more likely to make the pick than deal.
That's not to say a the Lightning wound't listen, but as Lawton said earlier this month, when Hedman and fellow prospectsTavares and Matt Duchene were in town: "Somebody would have to knock our socks off to do anything. ... My philosophy is we need to build with younger type players, and we need to be patient with them to really build a strong foundation for sustained success. And if you look around the league, there are shining examples all over the place, with Pittsburgh, with Chicago, with Washington. These are teams with a young nucleus of players."
Asked this week if he was confident the Lightning would improve the franchise with whomever it took at No. 2, Lawton said: "Absolutely. I am very impressed with the quality of the first three players, but even deeper than that, frankly. But the first three players in my mind are all exceptional players. They're not only terrific players but terrific young men."