The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is just 1 day away and the Wild are looking to find that next NHL star to raise their franchise to the next level. Hockey Wilderness is counting down the days with a daily mock draft. Coming fresh from the sting of agonizing defeat in the Stanley Cup Final, The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the clock with the 28th pick in our Hockey Wilderness Mock Draft.
About the Tampa Bay Lightning
Hate to break it to ya kids. The Lightning are going to be around awhile, disrupting the powerful forces of the Western Conference while they lay waste to the East Coast. They have a very talented, up-and-coming netminder in Andrey Vasilevskiy who saw action in 16 regular season games and 4 playoff games for the Lightning last season. A young kid with a pile of talent to hone, and he gets to back up Ben Bishop. They've got 2014 Calder Finalist Odrej Palat, they've got the kid, Nikita Kucherov who had a +/- rating of +38 playing all 82 games last season. I hear some guy named Jonathan Drouin is pretty good too. Lest we forget these youngsters get to play under the great Steven Stamkos. Must be tough.
Brewing in the prospect pool they have defensemen Anthony DeAngelo who seems just about ready to pop out of the CHL. Forwards Vladislav Namestnikov, Adam Erne and Brayden Point are part of a very promising group of kids coming through the ranks. Defensemen Dominik Masin and Johnathan MacLeod round out the defensive prospects, and let's not forget Minnesota's own, Adam Wilcox is under the umbrella of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
Why Vince Dunn?
With a name like Vince Dunn, is this really even a valid question? Why the hell not Vince Dunn!?
Alright, let's not get too excited here. Tampa seems to have enough in the cupboard that you can take a serious look at quality offensive-defensemen like Vince Dunn, and roll the dice with him. Dunn is a smooth-skating, defensemen who uses his speed to join in on the rush. He's not a large chap, standing at 6'0" tall and 185 lbs, size is not on his side or something that he can use for his advantage. He doesn't back down though, and from time to time has been known to get a little scrappy.
An offensive defenceman that sees the ice well and makes high-percentage plays. Very mobile, poised with the puck, and actively joins the rush. Is great with his stick; possesses a good shot and makes seamless tape-to-tape passes. Not the biggest body, but can out-work bigger opponents for puck possession. All-in-all, an offensive defenceman who will thrive in a system where puck possession is key.
If you watch any game tape on Dunn, you will notice his motor is always running. With or without the puck, Dunn is constantly active in and around the play. In 68 games for Niagara last season, he scored 18 goals along with 38 assists totaling 56 points. This doesn't always play out well for him and his defensive skill-set comes into question. His speed helps him catch back up to a rush, but when you're constantly moving around inevitably you're going to be out of position. Patience on defense is certainly an issue he will need to address.
Yzerman has not been one to shy away from these sorts of "swing for the fences" type picks, looking for a big potential payout on a gamble. Another option the Lightning may consider is trading this pick away. If the Wild or other NHL teams are looking to get another shot in the first round, I could see this pick as being one of the prime targets late in the first round.
Wild About Vince Dunn?
Me? Not personally no, I'm not too Wild about him. He's got some rough edges but an elite level ceiling. When it comes down to it though, the Wild and Lightning are in different spots. With the amount of talent coming up the pipes for Tampa Bay along with how loaded their NHL roster is looking, they can afford to bet long in hopes of huge returns.