Tampa Bay Lightning ranks 31st in NHL pipeline rankings for 2022

Tampa has handed out plenty of picks and prospects over the past few years in its successful two-time Stanley Cup pursuit. Flags Fly Forever, but the result is a system with few guys that you think will make a significant difference in the future. Isaac Howard, their most recent first-round pick, is their brightest hope.

Key Graduate: Cal Foote

Key Addition: Isaac Howard

Ranking 2021: n°30

2022 NHL Draft Score: C+

Full 2022-23 NHL Pipeline Rankings

Ranking of players

1. Isaac Howard, L.A.

18 years old | 5 feet 10 | 180 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 31 in 2022
Level: Middle roster player

Skating: NHL Average
Puck Skills: Above NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: NHL average

Analysis: Howard is a player defined by his skill level. His batting skills are among the best in the draft. He can make quick and creative dekes consistently. He is known as a goalscorer, but he can pass creatively and make difficult plays in small areas. Howard is a pretty good skater for the NHL, but for a 5-foot-10 guy, you’d like to see a little more burst. His goal is more a product of his skill and willingness to attack through the middle than a sniper shot. He projects himself into the top nine of the wingers.

2. Jack Finley, C

19 years old | 6 feet 6 inches | 213 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 57 in 2020
Level: Expected to play NHL games

Skating: poor
Puck skills: below NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: Above NHL average

Analysis: Finley hasn’t posted big numbers this season, but he was still a solid junior, especially after being traded to Winnipeg where he was a big part of a top team. If you’re expecting a lot of offense from Finley, you’ll be disappointed due to a lack of speed and skill – even though he has some offense. If you want a big, smart, competitive, two-way center who can win battles and be a presence in net, you’ll be happy. I could see him being a fourth line center in the NHL for a while in that kind of role.


Jack Thompson in a pre-season game in 2021. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

3. Jack Thompson, D

20 years | 6 feet | 178 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 93 in 2020
Level: Expected to play NHL games

Skating: below NHL average
Puck skills: below NHL average
Hockey acumen: above NHL average
Competition: NHL average
Shooting: above NHL average

Analysis: Thompson has been one of the best defensemen in the OHL this season. He’s a very smart passer who can throw the puck well and is a threat on the power play. He can create offense, but his defense hasn’t always been a strong point due to his poor skating stride. He’s improved enough on his side with his common sense, and I could see him playing games even though I’m not entirely convinced what his role in the NHL would be.

4. Gage Goncalves, AG

21 years old | 6 feet | 165 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 62 in 2020
Level: Expected to play NHL games

Skating: below NHL average
Puck Skills: NHL Average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: NHL average

Analysis: Goncalves had a strong first pro season, consistently getting power-play time for Syracuse and helping them become a strong AHL club. He is a highly skilled and intelligent striker who makes a lot of plays. Goncalves is also a player who has developed quite well in recent years after being a non-prospect. I don’t mind his work ethic on the ice, but his skating isn’t the best and could limit him in the NHL. I think he has games. I’m not entirely convinced he’ll have an NHL career, but I think he’s a good depth player who could play down the lineup.

5. Daniil Pylenkov, D

21 years old | 6 feet 1 | 194 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 196 in 2021
Level: Expected to play NHL games

Skating: below NHL average
Puck skills: below NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: NHL average

Analysis: Pylenkov has played a regular role on one of the top KHL teams in SKA this season, scoring five goals and 11 points. His mobility and pure skill don’t really stand out, but he’s a smart two-way defender. He can make plays with the puck from the blue line and makes a good outlet. Pylenkov works pretty hard and can make saves because of that and his sense. He could be a third pair defender or a good organizational depth defender.

Has a chance to play (listed alphabetically)

Hugo Alnefelt, G

21 years old | 6 feet 3 inches | 183 pounds | Remaining captures

Drafted: No. 71 in 2019

Analysis: Alnefelt struggled in his first year in North America. He’s an athletic goalkeeper, but whether he’s able to make the right reads and make the tough saves at the top level is an open question right now.

Dylan Duke, LW

19 years old | 5 feet 10 | 175 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 126 in 2021

Analysis: Duke is a skillful and smart forward who competes well and reaches the net. He’s not that tall and lacks speed in the NHL, though.

Gabriel Fortier, AG

22 years old | 5 feet 10 | 170 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 59 in 2018

Analysis: Fortier is an excellent skater who competes hard and can PK well. The question about his game is how much offense he has, despite scoring 35 AHL points with little time on the power play.

Maxim Groshev, AG

20 years | 6 feet 2 inches | 194 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 85 in 2020

Analysis: Groshev is a good skating winger with decent size and some puck skills. That he has enough attack to be a reliable pro at the highest level is what he has to prove.

Niko Huuhtanen, RW

19 years old | 6 feet 2 inches | 204 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 224 in 2021

Analysis: Huuhtanen had a good season in the WHL. He is a highly skilled winger with a size that plays physically and has a sharp shot. He has work to do on his skating, his game away from the puck and his decision-making at times, but he’s an intriguing pro prospect.

Bennett MacArthur, LW

21 years old | 6 feet | 195 pounds | Pull left

Signed at ELC

Analysis: MacArthur has scored at a goals-per-game pace in the QMJHL over the past two seasons. He’s a forward with good puck skills and good vision and shooting that’s a threat from the right face-off spot. His skating is just okay and will be the main test for him when he goes into the LAH, but his skills and points give him a chance to succeed.

Eamon Powell, D.

20 years | 5 feet 11 inches | 165 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 116 in 2020

Analysis: Powell is a good skater with a keen hockey sense who can move the puck. He hasn’t really excelled in college yet, at either end of the rink.

Roman Schmidt, D.

19 years old | 6 feet 5 inches | 210 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 96 in 2021

Analysis: Schmidt is a great right-handed defenseman who can move the puck well. Because of his length, he can make a few saves, but his skating needs a lot of work for the NHL level.

Ilya Usau, L.W.

20 years | 6 feet 1| 183 pounds | Pull left

Signed at ELC

Analysis: Usau is an intriguing athlete. He has good size, speed and skill and has really come into his own in the KHL this season after not developing as expected in North America. I’m not entirely convinced of his hockey sense yet, but he has a lot of character in the NHL.


Player Eligibility: All skaters 22 years of age or younger as of September 15, 2022, regardless of the number of NHL games they have played, are eligible. Player heights and weights are taken from the NHL.

Tool Ratings: Tool Ratings are based on a six-tier scale, with a look at how that attribute would be rated in the NHL (Poor, Below Average, Average, Above Average, High range and elite). “Average” on this scale means the tool is projected as an NHL average, which is considered a positive, not a criticism. Skating, puck skills, hockey sense and competition for each projected NHL player are rated. Shot ratings are only included if a shot is particularly good or bad.

Tier Definitions: Tiers are meant to show approximately where in an average NHL roster a player plans to fit.

(Illustration by Wes McCabe / Athleticism; photo by Jack Finley courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning)

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