Al Murray has a player list, and based on it, the Lightning’s director of amateur scouting felt the draft was approaching a dropoff in quality in the second round Wednesday.
Tampa Bay made one of its two trades Wednesday, the second and final day of the draft, to acquire an additional second-round pick and select forward Jack Finley of Spokane in the junior Western Hockey League. The team gave up next year’s second-round selection and a fourth-rounder in this draft to Montreal to get the 57th overall pick, five spots higher than its original pick.
“We have certain cutoffs on our list where we feel that the quality of players starts to diminish, and (Finley) was one of the last couple of players in that group,” Murray said. “We wanted to get him. We wanted to make sure he didn’t slip through.”
Murray compared it to when the Lightning traded up one pick to get Brayden Point. In 2014, Tampa Bay had an eye on Point. Multiple teams declined to make a deal with it before Minnesota finally agreed.
General manager Julien BriseBois said this was a matter of accelerating a developmental timeline by a year. A second-round pick in 2020 likely will be ready for the NHL a year ahead of a player selected in the same spot a year later. He is looking ahead to the organization’s continued tight squeeze under a flat salary cap.
So who is Finley? A 6-foot-6, 215-pound center from the Vancouver area.
“He’s obviously a big person, but we didn’t draft him for his size,” Murray said. “We drafted him because he’s got skill, he has competitiveness, and he has hockey sense and a big body.”
Finley described himself as a big-body, two-way center who can play in all situations. He’d like to model his game after the Blues' Ryan O’Reilly, last year’s playoff MVP.
In all, the Lightning drafted nine players — all on the second day — a total of six forwards, two defensemen and a goalie. The Lightning also traded the 94th overall pick to the Flyers in exchange for the 116th and 147th picks. The other picks, with their overall draft position:
Gage Goncalves, No. 62
Goncalves, 19, is a 6-foot, 165-pound center from British Columbia. He scored 33 goals and 71 points last season, up from one goal and 15 points in his first year with Everett in the Western League. He wants to play a game like Blues wing Jaden Schwartz, whom Goncalves described as someone who plays a physical, grinder role but also has the talent to make plays. Goncalves would like to be like Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli.
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Maxim Groshev, No. 85
Groshev, 18, is a 6-foot-2, 194-pound right wing from Russia. He made his debut in the KHL, Russia’s top league, as an 18-year-old last year. Playing only eight minutes a game, Groshev had one goal and seven points in 36 games. Playing against others his age with the national under-20 team, he had three points in 14 games.
Jack Thompson, No. 93
Thompson, 18, is a 6-foot, 181-pound defenseman from Ontario. He showed an offensive mindset last season with 13 goals and 32 points in 53 games with Sudbury in the junior Ontario League. He said he’d like to play a game similar to Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, another right-shot defenseman, who plays a lot of offense, is reliable in his zone and is looked to late in games.
Eamon Powell, No. 116
Powell, 18, is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound defenseman who grew up outside Syracuse, N.Y. He spent the past two years playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program, with 14 points in 43 games last season. Powell said that program helped him bulk up and gain strength to prepare for the college game. He’s a freshman at Boston College.
Jaydon Dureau, No. 147
Dureau, 19, is a 5-foot-11, 174-pound left wing from Saskatoon. He scored 19 goals and 70 points in 61 games with Portland of the Western League last season. Scouting services report a lot of upside in Dureau, who was considered one of the Western League’s most improved players last year. He described himself as a playmaker who likes to move the puck and set up teammates.
Nick Capone, No. 157
Capone, 18, is a 6-foot-2, 216-pound right wing from Connecticut. He scored seven goals and 19 points in 34 games with Tri-City of the junior United States Hockey League last season. He has a reputation as a tough, physical player and might be expected to play a role similar to that of the Lightning’s Pat Maroon. Capone said he models his play after the Capitals' Tom Wilson, who can use his body and score.
Amir Miftakhov, No. 186
Miftakhov, 20, is a 6-foot-1, 165-pound goalie from Russia. He spent most of last season in Russia’s second-tier league but got a taste of the KHL. His play stood out during the World Junior Championship with a goals-against average of 2.12 and a save percentage of .919 in five games as he took over the starting job and led Russia to the silver medal.
Declan McDonnell, No. 217
McDonnell, 18, is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound forward from the Buffalo area. He had 21 goals and 42 points in 63 games with Kitchener in the Ontario League last season. He was the final pick of the draft, after nearly 12 hours spanning the two days.