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Tampa Bay Lightning feels 'no pressure' with No. 6 pick in NHL draft

Defenseman Brandon Gormley could be at the top of the Lightning’s wish list if he’s still available at No. 6 today.

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Defenseman Brandon Gormley could be at the top of the Lightning’s wish list if he’s still available at No. 6 today.

LOS ANGELES — Steve Yzerman admitted he will need some help during tonight's draft at the Staples Center.

On the job a month, the Lightning general manager — who spent the past four years as a Red Wings vice president and the past two as executive director of Canada's gold-medal Olympic team, and whose first priority for Tampa Bay was hiring a coach — doesn't have enough information.

Enter director of player personnel Jim Hammett and head amateur scout Darryl Plandowski.

"I'm relying on them 100 percent," Yzerman said. "For me to say, 'I saw this kid play once, I like him, we're taking him,' would be a fatal mistake."

In other words, it is up to Hammett and Plandowski to bring some life to the No. 6 overall pick, which historically has yielded little.

"I don't feel any pressure with the No. 6 pick," Hammett said. "We're looking at our list, and I feel pretty confident something is going to come out of there."

"We want a difference-maker," Plandowski said. "We want a guy who can help us win. Whether it's on the blue line or a forward, it doesn't really matter."

Yzerman has said there is a remote possibility he will trade the pick. But for a team trying to rebuild its organizational depth, keeping it makes more sense unless faced with a slam-dunk deal.

The thing about the No. 6 pick is that it will be so influenced by what happens prior.

Left wing Taylor Hall and center Tyler Seguin, the top players available, are expected to go to the Oilers and Bruins, who choose first and second, respectively.

The Lightning likes defensemen Brandon Gormley (maybe best), Cam Fowler and Erik Gudbranson, though no one would be surprised if they were gone by the time Tampa Bay is on the clock.

There also is Nino Nieder­reiter, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound left wing from Portland of the junior Western Hockey League who had 35 goals, 60 points and 68 penalty minutes in 65 games, and can hit.

At the least, he will spark some debate at the draft table.

"At that point it's the best player available," Yzerman said. "The reality is we have needs at every position."

Less so in net, though the position could be addressed with one of Tampa Bay's other seven picks.

Hammett and Plandowski have a pretty good track record.

Last year's draft, their first for Tampa Bay, yielded defenseman Victor Hedman with the No. 2 overall pick. Forwards Carter Ashton, Richard Panik and Alex Hutchings, and goaltender Jaroslav Janus should be with AHL Norfolk next season.

Add Steven Stamkos, 2008's No. 1 overall pick who this past season tied for the NHL lead with 51 goals and you have a pretty good base on which to build.

"We're excited," Hammett said.

"You look at all the teams trending upward, the Chicagos, the Pittsburghs, they have that one-two punch. We're close to getting that, whether it's finding a guy for Stammer for that one-two punch up front or finding someone for Victor Hedman, another young guy. I think we're getting to a pretty good spot in that way."

With Yzerman along for the ride.

. Fast facts

NHL draft

When/where: Today-
Saturday, Staples Center, Los Angeles

What: Seven rounds;
Round 1 today, Rounds 2-7 Saturday

TV/radio: Tonight, 7, Versus, 1250-AM. Saturday, 1 p.m., NHL Network

Lightning's picks (rounds in parentheses): Nos. 6 (1), 63 (3), 66 (3), 72 (3), 96 (4), 118 (4), 156 (6), 186 (7)

First-round draft order:
1. Oilers; 2. Bruins (from Maple Leafs); 3. Panthers;
4. Blue Jackets; 5. Islanders; 6. Lightning; 7. Hurricanes; 8. Thrashers; 9. Wild; 10. Rangers; 11. Stars; 12. Ducks; 13. Coyotes (from Flames); 14. Blues; 15. Panthers (from Bruins); 16. Senators; 17. Avalanche; 18. Predators; 19. Kings; 20. Penguins; 21. Red Wings; 22. Coyotes; 23. Sabres; 24. Blackhawks (from Devils through Thrashers); 25. Canucks; 26. Capitals; 27. Canadiens; 28. Sharks; 29. Ducks (from Flyers); 30. Blackhawks

Tampa Bay Lightning feels 'no pressure' with No. 6 pick in NHL draft 06/24/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 25, 2010 1:10pm]
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