The Tampa Bay Lightning had half a dozen picks in the 2013 NHL Draft, including the third overall as decided by lottery, and they made waves with that plush pick by choosing budding superstar Jonathan Drouin.
Drouin, who watched his Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon go first overall, has turned quite a lot of heads in his career to date. Specifically, in just his second year of junior, his production rocketed from 29 points to a whopping 105 in 49 regular-season games. He was first among Mooseheads in goals, assists, plus/minus rating and shorthanded goals. In Halifax’s 17-game playoff run to the Memorial Cup tournament, he registered 12 goals and 23 assists, then helped the Mooseheads win that elusive trophy by racking up five separate assists in the championship game. Yes, five. He’s already won an absolute slew of junior-level awards, too, and could join the Bolts as soon as next season if the fates allow.
But for the Lightning, this draft wasn’t just the Drouin Show. In the second round, they took Adam Erne with the 33rd pick. Another selection from the QMJHL, he too was a scoring leader among his team, the Quebec Remparts. (Fun fact: Until very recently, the Remparts were coached by none other than Patrick Roy.) Like Drouin, Erne has been increasing his production quite steadily through his junior career, going from 55 points in his first Remparts campaign to 72 in this one just finished. He led the Remparts in points and assists, then put up 10 points in 11 postseason games.
Tampa Bay used their third pick, 124th overall on a goaltender, Latvian Kristers Gudlevskis. He’s a bit older than most draftees–he’s 20–and has been tending net for various teams in his native land, including HK Riga of Russia’s major junior circuit and then the KHL Dinamo Riga. In this past season, he’s gone up and down the ladder, appearing in two Dinamo games, 56 HK Riga games and two HK Juniors games. He also represented Latvia at the World Championship. For HK Riga this year, he put up a 2.39 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. Goalies tend to be long-term growers, so Gudlevskis may spend more time developing in Latvia.
The fourth of the newest baby Bolts is Henri Ikonen, picked 154th overall. The young Finn is with another Canadian major junior team, the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. He too led his team in points and was second in assists, notching 51 points this year as well as being tied at first for power play goals and plus-minus among Kingston players. This is after his very first season in the CHL, but he has quite a lot of experience for a 1994 baby–he’s played with the junior versions of Finnish clubs SaPKo and KalPa Kuopio, tried his hand at senior-level SM-liiga play and represented Finland many times in international play.
Another Finn got picked at 184th overall, Saku Salminen. Much like fellow countryman Ikonen, he’s been through Finland’s junior system, though with HIFK and Jokerit. He too has been in many international tourneys for Finland. This year, he split time with Jokerit and a lower-tiered Kiekko-Vantaa team, putting up seven points in a total of 25 games. He has experience winning championships at the Finnish Junior B level–twice!
Tampa Bay’s final choice (186th) went to a guy with a pretty awesome name, Joel Vermin. Vermin plays for SC Bern of the Swiss top-tier league, putting up 35 points in 47 games. (Fun trivia: During the lockout, John Tavares went to Bern.) With Vermin in tow, Bern won this year’s NLA championship. He’s been with Bern for six years now, coming up from the U17 squad all the way to the top tier, and he’s been a frequent visitor to international play for Switzerland.
All of Tampa Bay’s forward picks are listed on Elite Prospects as being versatile forwards, able to play both wings or centering and winging. This gives the Lightning a lot of flexibility for the future when deciding who goes where.