By Jake Ricker
The 2022 NHL Draft has come to a close, and the Lightning have some new members of the organization. Here is a recap and breakdown of all the players and moves the Lightning made during this year's draft.
Issac Howard LW
Many thought there was a possibility The Lightning would trade down, but the Lightning had other plans. With the 31st pick of the draft, the Lightning selected LW Issac Howard. Howard had 82 points (33 goals, 49 assists) in 60 games for USA hockey and is committed to Minnesota-Duluth for next year.
Howard was projected by some to go much higher than 31. He has great offensive talent and hockey IQ. AL Murray, head of scouting, had nothing but praise for Howard, even stating that they thought he would of been off the board when it came time for the Lightning to pick.
But it's not just his skills that have people talking. Howard had the quote of the draft when he said this during an interview. "I think I'm the best-looking guy here, so I decided to be the best-dressed, too." There is no doubt that he has confidence, so the only question is can he back it up. Overall this was a great pick for the Lightning and could turn into a huge steal from the first round.
Lucas Edmonds RW
The Lightning did not have a third-round pick coming into the draft, but the scouting team had their eye on Lucas Edmonds, and they made sure they got him. The Lightning traded picks 103 and 169 to get the 86th pick. Edmonds had 113 points (34 goals, 79 assists) in 68 games for Kingston in the OHL last year. An impressive season, to say the least.
Edmonds is a great scorer and has shown great hockey IQ. Al Murry did mention that his skating could be improved, but this is something that can be worked on. Anytime a team trades up for a player, it means they see a potentially great player, and the Lightning have a great track record of drafting in later rounds. There is no guarantee he will be an NHL player, but he is definitely someone to keep your eye on.
Nick Malik G
With the 160th pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected G Nick Malik. Malik went 15-9-9 with a .922 save percentage in 34 games for KooKoo Kouvola of SM-Liiga last year. An impressive year for the young goaltender. Nick is the son of Marerk Malik, who played with the Lightning as a defenceman.
The stats show a talented goalie that could be a good pick for the Lightning, but they haven't had the best record drafting goalies, with only three goalies ever eclipsing ten wins. Luckily one of those goalies was Andrei Vasilevskiy. Hopefully, we will add another name to that list in the future.
Connor Kurth F
With the 192nd pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected F Connor Kurth. Kurth had 81 points (35 goals, 46 assists) in 62 games for the Saints in the USHL last year. AL Murray said that Kurth was a late bloomer but has good offensive talent, and that was hard to come by. Kurth will likely start in Syracuse and will hopefully develop into a good young player.
Dyllan Gill LD
With the 223rd pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected LD Dyllan Gill. Gill had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) in 66 games for the Huskies in the QMJHL last year. Being a late-round pick, there is not a lot of information on Dyllan but being an LD is a huge plus for the Lightning as this is where they are weakest.
Klavs Veinbergs LW
With the 224th pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected LW Klavs Veinbergs. Veinbergs had 24 points (16 goals, 8 assists) in 47 games for the HK Riga in the MHL last year. The Last pick by the Bolts have mostly a shot in the dark, but that doesn't mean it was a bad pick. Veinbergs will have a lot of work to do if he wants to become an NHL player, but there is no question he can achieve that with the help of a world-class coaching staff which the Lightning have.
The Lightning didn't make a ton of picks, but overall they did well. While it is impossible to tell whether or not these draft classes are a success or not the players selected have lots of high praise. The Lightning either took the best player available or drafted for need which is why many have given them a high draft grade. If even one of these picks can turn into a solid NHL player, it will have been a success. The important thing to remember is they are all young kids, and it could take a few years for them to even reach the NHL level.
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