How Well Have the Tampa Bay Lightning Drafted Since 2000?

For those of you who haven’t seen my earlier posts I am going through each of the 30 teams and breaking down how they have drafted over the past 15 years. The other teams can be found here:

To make this post I went through all of the Tampa Bay Lightning picks between 2000 and 2012.

Many of these players were drafted but traded to other teams where they played most of their careers. Despite playing most of their careers on other teams I still used their full NHL stats for two reasons:

1) The team drafted players they believed to have potential; whether or not they fulfilled their potential on that team doesn’t necessarily matter. The important thing is that the team recognized a players true potential and the players that were selected lived up to it.

2) You could argue that they wouldn’t turn out to be the same players if they stayed on the team, and you’re probably right, but I decided to do it this way so that I could specifically focus on the teams drafting ability and not the player development.


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 17 1836 815
LW 18 304 138
RW 12 570 181
D 37 1390 390
G 16 269 6
Unspecified 15 358 86
Total 115 4727 1616
  • 26 of 115 players drafted since 2000 have played 50+ games in the NHL (23%)
  • 23 of 115 players drafted since 2000 have played 100+ games in the NHL (20%)
  • Draftees (incl. goalies) since 2000 have played a total of 4727 games
  • Skaters (excl. goalies) drafted since 2000 have played a total of 4458 games and accumulated 1610 points (0.36 PPG)
  • Draftees since 2000 have an average of 16 points and 41 games played
  • Best draft year: 2008 – Steven Stamkos (1st), James Wright (117th), Dustin Tokarski (122nd, 2008), Mark Barberio (152nd)
  • Worst draft year: 2006 – Riku Helenius (15th), Kevin Quick (78th). 7 NHL games played between 4 draft picks

Best Picks Since 2000

  • Forward: Steven Stamkos
  • Defenseman: Victor Hedman
  • Goaltender: Karri Ramo
  • Most Games by a Draftee: Steven Stamkos (492)
  • Most Points by a Draftee: Steven Stamkos (498)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 3 718 551
LW 0 0 0
RW 2 193 37
D 4 410 185
G 2 17 0
Unspecified 1 159 37
Total 12 1497 810
  • 5 of 12 players drafted in the 1st round have played 100+ games in the NHL (42%)
  • First round picks have played a total of 1497 games and accumulated 810 points (0.55 PPG)
  • First round picks have an average of 81 points and 125 games played
  • Notable picks: Steven Stamkos (1st, 2008), Victor Hedman (2nd, 2009), Alexandr Svitov (3rd, 2001), Nikita Alexeev (8th, 2000), Brett Connolly (6th, 2010< Vladislav Namestnikov (27th, 2011)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 2 135 24
LW 2 0 0
RW 3 285 121
D 4 122 6
G 0 0 0
Unspecified 1 0 0
Total 12 542 151
  • 4 of 12 players drafted in the 2nd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (33%)
  • Second round picks have played a total of 542 games and accumulated 151 points (0.28 PPG)
  • Second round picks have an average of 13 points and 45 games played
  • Notable picks: Nikita Kucherov (58th, 2011), Richard Panik (52nd, 2009), Dana Tyrell (47th, 2007), Matt Smaby (41st, 2003)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 1 191 98
LW 3 7 1
RW 2 71 22
D 4 132 33
G 1 0 0
Unspecified 1 199 49
Total 12 600 203
  • 3 of 12 players drafted in the 3rd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (25%)
  • Third round picks have played a total of 600 games and accumulated 203 points (0.34 PPG)
  • Third round picks have an average of 18 points and 50 games played
  • Notable picks: Alexander Killorn (77th, 2007), Evgeny Artyukhin (94th, 2001), Radko Gudas (66th, 2010)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 11 792 142
LW 13 297 137
RW 5 21 1
D 25 726 166
G 13 252 6
Unspecified 12 0 0
Total 79 2088 452
  • 11 of 79 players drafted between the 4th and 9th rounds have played 100+ games in the NHL (14%)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have played 2088 games and accumulated 446 points (0.24 PPG)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have an average of 7 points and 26 games played
  • Notable picks: Ondrej Palat (208th, 2011), Paul Ranger (183rd, 2002), Cedric Paquette (101st, 2012), Mark Barberio (152nd, 2008), Karri Ramo (191st, 2004), Mike Lundin (102nd, 2004), Blair Jones (102nd, 2005), James Wright (117th, 2008), Jay Rosehill (227th, 2003), Fredrik Norrena (213th, 2002), Ryan Craig (255th, 2002), Nick Tarnasky (287th, 2003)


  • On June 21st, 2008 the Lightning drafted David Carle; two weeks later they made a trade that acquired his brother, Matt Carle.
  • The Lightning’s only successful left winger is 7th round pick Ondrej Palat
  • Despite their lack of success in drafting goaltenders the Lightning have actually drafted the second most netminders of all teams (16)
  • Only 4 Lightning draftees have more than 100 career points; Stamkos is the only draftee with 200+ career points.
  • Stamkos accounts for nearly one third of all Lightning draftees total points


Since the 1st overall is very different from 30th overall I used this TSN article, which estimates a player’s probability of playing 100+ NHL games based off their round selection, to determined how well a team drafted in the first round relative to their pick placement. In other words, I determined if a team drafted well or poorly in the first round by comparing their success rate to the historical league average.

1st Round Pick Position # of Picks Probability of Success
1 – 5 3 96%
6 – 10 3 74%
11 – 15 1 54%
16 – 20 1 62%
21 – 30 4 58%

The Lightning have had a fairly even distribution of picks with 7 being in the top 15 and 5 being in the latter half of the round. However, because the Lightning had 6 picks in the top 10 their first round drafting expectations were a little higher at 69 to 75 percent.

Round Expected Success Rate Actual Success Rate
1 69 – 75% 42%
2 26 – 32% 33%
3 21 – 26% 25%
4+ 10 – 15% 14%

Despite having so many top 10 picks the Lightning struggled mightily in the first round missing expectations by roughly 30 percent. Their first round drafting success ranks third worst in the league but when adjusted for expectations they rank as the worst first round drafting in the league. Outside of Stamkos and Hedman the Lightning’s next highest scoring first round pick is Alexandr Svitos with 37 career points. As a whole Tampa’s average first round draftee has 81 points and 125 games played which rank 28th and 30th respectively. Even with Stamkos and Hedman the Lightning’s first round drafting has been an absolute disaster.

With a 33 percent success rate the Lightning drafted better in the second round and even surpassed success rate expectations. Despite this high rate the average second round draftee has only 13 points and 45 games played which both rank 27th league wide. So how does a team with an above average success rate rank as one of the worst in points and games played? After taking a closer look at the Lightning’s successful second round picks I found that four players met the 100 game threshold but none have more than 160 games played or more than 85 career points. In fact, Nikita Kucherov is the only second round draftee to have a PPG higher than 0.26. While the Lightning have a number of players that played 100+ games, only one has gone on to become a significant contributor while the rest have fizzed out after hitting the 100 game mark.

The Lightning met their success targets in the third round with 25 percent of players skating in at least 100 games. Unlike the second round, the success rate was much more indicative of Tampa Bay’s actual drafting success. Their average draftee has 18 points and 50 games played which both rank 15th in the league. If you didn’t notice, Tampa Bay’s third round draftees actually outperformed second rounders in both points and games played. While the Lightning’s third round drafting isn’t impressive by any means their numbers are on par with the league average which is a huge improvement over the first and second rounds.

In the depth rounds the Lightning met success expectations but, similar to the second round, it isn’t entirely indicative of how well they’ve actually drafted. Despite having 14 more picks than the average team in the 4th round or later they haven’t selected a single player that has gone on to score more than 130 career points. Their average draftee has just 7 points and 26 games played which rank 25th and 26th respectively. The majority of the Lightning’s successful picks have gone on to play bottom six, bottom pairing, or backup goaltending roles. Tampa Bay’s one bright spot is 2011 7th round pick Ondrej Palat who is already their most successful depth pick with 126 points in only 170 games played. Unfortunately, outside of Palat the Lightning’s next best offensive contributor is defenseman Paul Ranger with 106 career points and a 0.33 PPG.

The below table compares how the Lightning have stacked up against the league average:

Category League Avg. Tampa Bay Difference
Draftees 105 115 +10
100+ GP 22 23 +1
100+ GP (%) 23% 20% -3%
Total GP 8679 4727 -3952
Skater PTS 3427 1610 -1817
Skater PPG 0.41 0.36 -0.05
AVG PTS 37 16 -21
AVG GP 83 41 -42

From everything I’ve said above it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Lightning rank below the league average in practically every category. If I didn’t emphasize how badly they’ve drafted before than nothing will emphasize it more than this: Lightning draftees have played nearly 4000 less games and have 1800 less points than the league average despite drafting 10 more players. Their average points and games played per draftee both rank dead last in the league. Based off the Lightning’s current numbers they are guaranteed a spot in the bottom five and may be the worst drafting team between 2000 and 2012.

But hold on a minute, how did one of the worst drafting teams over the last 15 years make it to the Stanley Cup finals just a few months ago? Better yet, how can the Lightning rank so low when they were named the team with the deepest prospect pool only two years ago?

Any Lightning fan can tell you that Tampa Bay hasn’t been the same team since the arrival of Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman but the real reason for their recent success lies much deeper than that. Changes in ownership, a new GM, and a couple new coaches have contributed to significantly better drafting since the late 2000’s. Prior to 2007 the average draftee had 7 points and 39 games played. Since 2007, the average draftee has 30 points and 60 games played. Stamkos definitely inflates the post 2006 numbers so I redid the calculations and excluded him; without Stamkos the average draftee has 17 points and 50 games played. While their post 2006 numbers significantly drop without Stamkos it’s still a huge improvement over their drafting from 2000 to 2006. It’s also important to note that their post 2006 numbers are skewed down because many draftees have only started to receive significant playing time with the club (Killorn, Kucherov, Palat, Namestnikov, Paquette, Drouin, etc.).

The Lightning have significantly improved since 2006 but I can’t stress enough how bad Tampa Bay’s drafting was prior to this change. Not a single Lightning player drafted between 2000 and 2006 had a career PPG of 0.50 or higher. Since 2006 though, 4 of 40 drafted skaters have a PPG higher than 0.50 (Stamkos, Palat, Kucherov, Killorn).

While Tampa Bay’s recent draftees haven’t played enough games to improve the teams overall stats the Lightning are clearly a team on the rise. If this study were to be redone in a few years I don’t think it would surprise anyone if they were one of the most improved teams in the league. Because this study ranks teams on their drafting over the last 15 years and not specifically how they’ve done recently the Lightning will rank as one of the bottom teams in the league.


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