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Lightning add goalie depth in fifth round of NHL draft in Nick Malik

Notes | Tampa Bay selects right wing Connor Kurth in the sixth round, and a defenseman and another forward in the seventh.
Nick Malik makes a save during the IIHF World Junior Championship game between the Czech Republic and Sweden in 2020 in Edmonton. The Lightning selected Malik in the fifth round of the 2022 NHL draft.
Nick Malik makes a save during the IIHF World Junior Championship game between the Czech Republic and Sweden in 2020 in Edmonton. The Lightning selected Malik in the fifth round of the 2022 NHL draft. [ ANDY DEVLIN | ZUMAPRESS.com ]
Published Jul. 8|Updated Jul. 9

The Lightning don’t have immediate concerns in goal with All-Star Andrei Vasilevskiy under contract until 2027-28. But that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring their future.

Tampa Bay used its fifth-round pick (No. 160 overall) in the draft Friday at Montreal to select goaltender Nick Malik, who played with KooKoo in the top Finnish league, Liiga, last season.

Amir Miftakhov, selected in the sixth round of the 2020 draft, was placed on unconditional waivers July 1, leaving Hugo Alnefelt, a third-round pick in 2019, as the only true goaltending prospect left in the organization.

In Malik, 20, the Lightning’s scouting department saw the opportunity to add depth.

Nick Malik and Czech Republic assistant coach Ales Kratoska speak during a training session before the under-20 world championships in 2019 in Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic.
Nick Malik and Czech Republic assistant coach Ales Kratoska speak during a training session before the under-20 world championships in 2019 in Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic. [ PRYCEK VLADIMIR | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

“It was the guy that was there that we felt had really good potential,” Al Murray, the Lightning’s director of amateur scouting, told media in Montreal.

Malik, 6 feet 7, is the son of former Lightning defenseman Marek Malik, who played with Tampa Bay during the 2008-09 season.

Malik is set to play with KooKoo in 2022-23. He had a .922 save percentage (fourth best in the league), a 1.97 goals-against average and four shutouts in 34 games last season.

‘Favorite sleeper pick’

The Lightning chose left wing Connor Kurth of Dubuque of the junior United States Hockey League in the sixth round (No. 192). Though he isn’t ready to play at AHL Syracuse, Murray hopes that Kurth, who turns 19 on July 30, will benefit from playing at the University of Minnesota.

“Another bit of a late developer, but he’s a goal-scorer,” Murray said. “We’ve had some success with the (USHL) with getting some later players that continue to mature and develop and go onto school, and we think he can be one of those guys.”

Murray noted Kurth’s build — 5 feet 11, 207 pounds — and shooting ability, which produced 35 goals and 81 points in 62 games last season.

“Offensive players are tough to find, so we thought this was a great opportunity this year to add some skilled offensive players in (first-round pick) Isaac (Howard), (third-rounder) Lucas (Edmonds) and Kurth,” Murray said. “So we’ve added some good offensive skill to our prospect pool.”

Chris Peters, a draft and prospects analyst for the website FloHockey, called Kurth a “favorite sleeper pick” of his in a Twitter post after the selection.

“I think (he’s) going to be a solid goal-scorer at the collegiate level at Minnesota,” Peters wrote. “The kind of guy you draft now so you don’t have to fight through a big crowd when he’s a college free agent.”

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Final flurry

Latvia's Klavs Veinbergs, right, and Britain goaltender Ben Bowns, left, compete during an Ice Hockey World Championship Group B match in May in Tampere, Finland.
Latvia's Klavs Veinbergs, right, and Britain goaltender Ben Bowns, left, compete during an Ice Hockey World Championship Group B match in May in Tampere, Finland. [ MICHAL KAMARYT | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

The Lightning selected defenseman Dyllan Gill and left wing Klavs Veinbergs with their final two picks, back-to-back in the seventh round (Nos. 223 and 224).

Gill, 18, had 21 points, including six goals, in 66 games with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior League last season, his second with the team.

Veinbergs, 19, spent part of last season with Zemgale in his native Latvia’s top league and had seven points in nine playoff games as his team won a league championship. He also played for Latvia at the world championship.

Cirelli has surgery

Lightning center Anthony Cirelli had shoulder surgery Tuesday, general manager Julien BriseBois told media in Montreal. Cirelli sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder during the Eastern Conference final against the Rangers and then dislocated it during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against the Avalanche.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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