The 31-in-31 Offseason Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!
Tampa Bay has been a Stanley Cup contender for several years. They have been a popular pre-season pick for Stanley Cup predictions, have won some President’s Trophies, but always fell short in the playoffs…Until now. The Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions.
To achieve this status the Lightning have traded away several top prospects and draft picks along the way and are faced with a salary cap problem, but these are all small prices to pay to be able to raise another banner.
The key to success in the NHL starts at the Entry Draft, so let’s review how the Lightning did at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
While the Lightning had traded out of the first round of the draft and did not select until the 57th overall selection, they did own nine selections in total.
Round 2, 57th overall – Jack Finley, C
The Lightning traded up to acquire Jack Finley, a big 6-5 and 207 pound center with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. The 18-year-old had a strong draft season posting 19 goals and 57 points in 61 games for the Chiefs. The Lightning have a history of drafting players with size and character, or highly skilled players; in Finley, they feel they have both. His upside may not be of a first-line center, but his floor is probably a solid two-way third-line guy.
Round 2, 62nd overall – Gage Goncalves, C
The Lightning did not need to wait long to make their next selection and went with a more skilled center in Goncalves. The 6-1 pivot posted 33 goals and 71 points with Everett Silvertips in the WHL. Known for his heavy shot, Goncalves is very dangerous on the power play when he one-times bombs. He has been invited to the Canadian World Junior selection camp and has been impressive there in scrimmages and lighting the lamp whit his shot. He will be hard-pressed to crack the Canadian World Junior roster, but just making the selection camp is a feather in his cap to be sure.
Round 3, 85th overall – Maxim Groshev, LW/RW
The Lightning have never been shy to draft players from Russia, and go back to that well in the third round for winger Groshev. In his draft year, he managed to see time in the MHL, KHL and some international time, including winning a Silver Medal at the World Junior, despite being held off the score sheet. Groshev has good size and is a good skater, but lacks explosive or creative offensive upside. He played the majority of his draft year in the KHL against men and managed seven points and one goal.
Round 3, 93rd overall – Jack Thompson, D
The Lightning took a swing with their second third-round pick on Thompson. He is an offensive defenseman that reads plays well, can run the power play, and has a heavy shot. He will be a long-term project as, like many 18-year-olds, he lacks consistency. His play in his own end is a work in progress as well, but defense is a teachable skill. Offensive vision is more difficult to develop, so the upside is there.
Round 4, 116th overall – Eamon Powell, D
Despite his stature of 5-11, 170 pounds, Powell does not play a timid game. He is not an aggressive player but has shown a willingness to play hard and fight for pucks. The strength of his game is his skating, it is beautiful to watch. His stride is smooth and elegant and his top gear looks effortless. Powell played as a pair with Jake Sanderson with the NTDP and is committed to Boston College where he will continue to develop his game.
Round 5, 147th overall – Jaydon Dureau, LW
The Bolts pick another D+1 player in Dureau. After a break-out season in the WHL posting 19 goals and 70 points in 61 games playing alongside Seth Jarvis, the Lightning picked the aggressive and tenacious winger. Dureau is a hard-working player who produced at a steady rate and is trending in the right direction.
Round 6, 157th overall – Nick Capone, RW
The Lightning are hoping they have drafted the next Tom Wilson in the 6-2, 216-pound winger from the USHL. Capone posted seven goals and 19 points in 34 games along with his 96 PIMs. He models his game after the power forward and will look to develop his offensive game more in the NCAA, where he has committed to the University of Connecticut.
Round 6, 186th overall – Amir Miftakhov, G
All eyes were on the Russian goal at the World Junior as Yaroslav Askarov, the underage future star was expected to be the starting goalie. But after faltering, the Russian crease was handed over to 19-year-old Miftakhov who played admirably in his stead. The 2000-born is a D+2 prospect who played in the VHL posting an 8-10-3 record with a 2.19 GAA and .913 SV%. Currently, in the KHL, his contract expires after this season.
Round 7, 217th overall – Declan McDonnell, RW
Playing in the OHL as a rookie in his draft year, his performance improved as the season developed, culminating in a 21 goal and 42 point season in 63 games with the Kitchener Rangers. There are not any standout attributes to his game, but no glaring deficiencies either. He is a versatile player, with good speed and could develop into a fourth-line NHL player.
Re-Signed: Mikhail Sergachev, Pat Maroon, Luke Schenn, Ben Thomas, Ross Colton, Chris Gibson, Spencer Martin, Gemel Smith, Mitch Stephens
In: Andreas Borgman, Alex Green, Sean Day
Out: Alexi Lipanov, Scott Wedgewood, Zach Bogosian, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carter Verhaeghe, Dennis Yan, Oleg Sosunov
Overall the Lightning had a very quiet offseason. The loss of defenders Shattenkirk and Bogosian leave holes, but considering their cap situation, they managed to hold onto the majority of their Championship roster. Look for the Lightning to fill those holes internally by delegating a larger role to Erik Cernak, and giving opportunity for prospects like Cal Foote and Ben Thomas to make the jump to the NHL. The Lightning do still need to resign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Cernak which will be difficult under the cap and may result in further turnover.