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The Lightning didn't have a first round pick or a second round pick for that matter so it wasn't until day 2 of the NHL Draft that the Bolts would get in on the action. In this article we will take a look at each of the Bolts draft picks and break them down to see who the Lightning will be adding to their organization.
Round 3 Pick 96 - D Roman Schmidt
Schmidt is an RHD who played in 70 total games last year. He would put up five goals 17 assists for a total of 22 points. Listed at 6'6'' and 209 pounds, Schmidt fills a much-needed hole for the Lighting as they are very thin on the right side of the defense. According to Elite Prospects, Schmidt is "all slow movements until an opponent gets in his range along the boards. Then, he strikes. His closeouts are forceful. He plasters attackers to the glass, pins them with his free hand, and knocks the puck away with his stick."
As mentioned earlier, the Lightning need more depth on the right side of the defense, so it's hard to make a bad pick at this position. But Schmidt has great size and likes to play physical, giving him a lot of potential upside. According to Bryan Burns, Schmidt's hero is nonother than Victor Hedman. He just might have a great opportunity to learn right alongside his hero as he is now a part of the same organization. Overall a good pick by the Bolts.
Round 4 Pick 126 - LW Dylan Duke
This pick really came out of left field as the Bolts did not have a fourth-round pick coming into the draft. The Bolts traded their 4th round pick in 2022 to the Canadiens in exchange for the 126th overall pick. With this pick, the Lightning selected LW Dylan Duke, who played in 79 games last year and put up 39 goals, 27 assists for a total of 66 points.
Dylan was a highly rated prospect that was projected to go somewhere between the second and third round. JBB knew this and jumped at the opportunity to move up and grab his guy. According to Elite Prospects, "He engages with the net-front defender, establishes body position, and then pushes off just as a puck comes near. From there, he spins around and fires, hammers away, and occasionally shows some deft in-tight handling skill. Even if Duke can't find space, he still finds a way to deflect the puck or whack away".
JBB later said on NHL network that to him, this guy is a "Bolt," which should make Lightning fans excited about this pick. The Bolts scouting team has a great reputation in the latter rounds, and the fact that JBB has had high praise for him and moved up to get him only says more good things about the pick.
Round 5 Pick 160 - C Cameron MacDonald
Cameron played in 30 games last year, putting up ten goals and seven assists for a total of 17 points. He is listed at 6'1" and 190lbs. According to Elite Prospects, "When the puck rests on the blade of a teammate, the Cameron can slip away from coverage, hide behind the back of defenders, and drive the net sneakily to tap passes in."
The Lightning have a lot of depth at the center position, so this isn't a huge pick for the Bolts, but Cameron is another solid piece the Lightning have now added to their already deep prospect pool.
Round 6 Pick 192 - D Alex Gagne
LHD Alex Gagne played in 53 games last year, putting up three goals and 23 assists for a total of 26 points. He is listed at 6’3” and 207 lbs. Alex made third-team USHL and will now play at the University of New Hampshire.
While this is not a position of need pick, Alex is a solid pick and has been said to be the type of defender that can play against top lines and shut them down, according to his coaches.
Round 7 Pick 196 - D Daniil Pylenkov
LHD Daniil Pylenkov played in 56 games last year, putting up five goals and 15 assists for a total of 20 points. He is listed at 6’1” and 194 lbs. According to Pete of Bolts Prospects, Daniil's shot is a little undersized but is good defensively and can also put some offense when needed.
Plenkov is 20 years old and has the most experience out of anyone in this draft class. He is also said to play a good physical game as he likes to pin players alongside the boards and use his stick to poke check the puck away from his opponents.
Round 7 Pick 211 - LW Robert Flinton
LW Robert Flinton played in 14 games last year, putting up 13 goals and 11 assists for a total of 24 points. He is listed at 6’2” and 203 lbs. While we only have a small sample size, Flinton was able to put up almost 2 points per game last season, which is very impressive.
Flinton is still very young, so while he has been putting up good numbers, there is still a lot to develop in his game. Flinton will heading to Dartmouth for his education and will hopefully continue to develop his skills in the NCAA.
Round 7 Pick 224 - RW Niko Huuhtanen
RW Niko Huuhtanen played in 44 games last year, putting up 22 goals and 17 assists for a total of 39 points. He is listed at 6'1" and 203 lbs. According to Elite Prospects, He "Brings a heavy release, good skill, and a heavy dose of meanness and physicality to the table."
His scoring ability is by far the best part of his game, but many have had issues with his skating. Huuhtanen is not someone you're going to see make a splash quickly, but if we have learned anything from the Lightning, it's they know how to develop prospects. If they are able to improve his skating, we just might have the next Ondrej Palat on our hands.
So there you have it, the 2021 Tampa Bay Lightning draft class. Overall I think the Bolts got some good picks. I would have liked to see them go after more RHD as they are still very thin at that position, but it is hard to go against anything the scouting department does, as the Lightning have shown through their drafting and development, any of these picks can be superstars.
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