With no draft capital available to them in either of the first two rounds of this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t major newsmakers during the course of the festivities. Even so, that didn’t stop them from going back to a familiar recipe that should have fans of the team excited.
After consummating a trade with the Montreal Canadiens to move up and into the fourth round, the Bolts selected Dylan Duke from the US National Development Program team with the 126th overall selection. Duke, who stands at only 5’10” and weighs in at only 175 pounds, put up nearly a point per game with his Program squad.
If all this is sounding familiar to you, it should. The back-to-back champion Lightning built so much of their success on finding highly talented gems much later in the draft than any team should ever be able to. Names like Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point were bets on undersized offensive talents, and those bets paid off in spades. While there’s certainly no expectation that Duke will reach the heights of those two, it’s certainly a positive to see the team look for similar-story players in the later rounds on a weekend like this. There’s absolutely no harm in sticking with what works.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Lightning’s ability to execute on this selection specifically is that Duke was even available to them in the fourth round. Many well-respected draft lists had him ranked in the second or third round. Again, it’s a story the Lightning have seen and benefitted from before.
When the universal consensus around a draft pick late on day two is that it’s a “steal” or a “high-value” selection, it’s difficult to walk away feeling anything but happy. Even though their other picks didn’t generate a ton of fanfare today, getting a player with Dylan Duke’s upside into what has to be considered the NHL’s best player development system is a boon for the franchise. There are no guarantees about what the future might look like for him, but there’s no doubt that the Lightning organization will give him all the tools he could ever need to turn himself into another good news story for them.
As always, thanks for reading.