The 2012 NEFHL entry draft was the most important draft in Lightning history as for the first time the team took a rebuild approach and invested in higher draft picks as opposed to previous years where the team traded away its higher picks. Going into this draft we held our own first round which was 3rd overall while also holding picks number 16, 31 and an early 50's range pick.
Looking at our roster we felt that we were lacking high end talent at the front end so we were definitely going to take advantage of such a high pick and try to pick up a top line forward for the future. We as a team felt very comfortable and happy getting one the 3 top forwards in the draft therefore when Yakupov and Gally went 1st and 2nd respectively we were left with Forsberg who we were very happy to select with our 3rd Overall pick. With Forsberg we get a big and skilled two way forward who at worse we feel will be a 2nd line nhl'er and believe that in time can reach the level of play of fellow countryman Gabriel Landeskog who was taken 4th overall last season.
After our first pick we decided that we were going to go after whatever player we felt was the best player available. At number 16 we were hoping that one of olli Maatta or Codi Ceci would fall to us. Unfortunately, when Ceci was taken with the 11th overall pick we began to feel concerned that maatta may not fall to us. Next up to pick were the senators and we found out that they were looking to trade down and we decided to jump on that opportunity and offered our third next year along with number 16 for the 12th overall pick. They accepted our offer and we got to pick our guy, Olli Maatta! We feel like Maatta will devellop into a top pairing guy that will skate really well, play positionally sound in the defensive end with the potential to be a 10 goal 30 assist type of d-man in the NEFHL.
Next pick at number 31 we were surprised to see solid 2 way d-man Matt Finn available. We had him going in the early 20's but most definitely in the 1st round and therefore it was a no brainer for us to make him our 3rd pick in the NEFHL draft. Some believe his offensive potential hasn't even hit the surface, some believe he may not put up big numbers at the nhl level but most definitely believe that he'll be an NHL'er that will have the opportunity to play the powerplay and potentially be a top 4 pairing d-man.
Later in the 2nd round with pick 45 coming up and the preds about to pick, I couldn't believe that Michael Matheson was still available to be taken. I turned to Sylvain and asked him if we consider moving down, he thought about it and made me a fair offer which I accepted. For the 2nd time in the draft I moved up in the draft to get the guy I wanted and couldn't be happier about my moves. Matheson later got drafted in the 1st round of the nhl draft 23rd overall by the florida panthers. He may take a little bit longer to be an impact player for the Lightning in the NEFHL as he is commited to play NCAA hockey but with his skill set we have no problem letting him develop!
The lightning are extremely pleased with their draft as we believe we have a top line forward for years to come and 3 defensemen that could potentially all be top 4 guys in our organization.