One of the biggest questions surrounding the upcoming NHL Entry Draft for the Tampa Bay Lightning, what exactly will Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman do with his first round pick, third overall? It is a complicated question that may ultimately depend more on what the teams in front of the Lightning decide to do, currently the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers, in that order with the first and second pick.
As we discussed in an earlier piece for SportsTalkFlorida, the Colorado Avalanche could very well explore trading the first overall pick. There have been reports out there that the Florida Panthers will at least listen to what other teams have to say. Obviously there is no guarantee that either team makes a move, and all the talk could be nothing more than a smoke screen for both teams. It is fair to say that smoke screens are prevalent this time of year, so it is not an exaggeration to say that both picks could be moved, and at the same time, both teams could go to the podium to make picks.
So what does this all mean for Steve Yzerman and the Lightning? It may be a very simple premise. First and foremost, multiple reports out of Canada have quoted Yzerman as saying he is not moving up. It makes sense. It would cost at least one good prospect to move up, and the biggest question in making that move is how much better is the player you would get with the first or second pick than the player that you could get with the third pick. The answer is likely not much better, so there is no reason to make that move.
Even if one of the two teams in front of the Lightning trade their pick, it is not the end of the world for the team. Barring a trade of their own moving down, two of Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Valeri Nichushkin will be on the board and available to the Lightning to select. That is a terrific position to be in.
It brings us back to the original question of what the Lightning will do with their pick at three. While it may be a cliché, perhaps the simplest, and most truthful answer to that question based on the limited information available, is that they will select the best player available on their board, as boring of an answer as that may be.