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Tampa Bay's Lawton has options with the No. 2 pick

TSN.ca Staff

6/24/2009 9:18:57 PM

If you are the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and you hold the No. 2 selection in this year's NHL Entry Draft, there are three basic opportunities:

Trade the pick and move up, trade the pick and move down, or make the pick at the number two spot.

Tampa Bay's Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton is considering each of those options with his club's final decision set to be unveiled on Friday in Montreal (TSN, TSN HD, 7pm et/4pm pt).

First off, it appears that one of those possibilities can be eliminated from the list right away.

"I don't envision us moving the (No. 1) pick," Islanders General Manager Garth Snow told TSN shortly after his club won the Draft Lottery. "I just don't see us doing that".

So if Snow keeps his pick, then Tampa Bay's decision at number two will be reactionary. And even then, the Lightning will have the opportunity to make an interesting call.

If, as many expect, the Islanders select John Tavares (F, London - OHL) with the first pick, then number two-rated Victor Hedman (D, MoDo, Swedish Elite League) falls to Tampa. Matt Duchene (F, Brampton - OHL), the talented forward projected to go number three, would also be available.

"We are always looking for options, we are always looking for ways to improve our club and whenever you have options you feel better about that," said Lawton.

One year ago the Lightning had the number one pick and took Steven Stamkos. So with Vincent Lecavalier in the fold and signed to a long-term deal, and Martin St. Louis signed for two more seasons, the Lightning have marketable commodities if they want to move one of their veteran, and more expensive forwards and lean more on their younger players.

The possibility of trading Lecavalier has long been rumoured in Tampa, but Lawton says it's old news.

"I have no comment on that, we have talked enough about that, I'm excited to be here and we are looking forward to the draft," said Lawton.

Rounding out TSN's top five projected picks are Evander Kane (F, Vancouver - WHL) and Brayden Schenn (F, Brandon - WHL). So there is a lot of scoring potential to go around if Tampa is interesting in trading down a spot or two.

"For me like I said there are five tremendous players in the draft and even the teams - I'll extend it to 7-8-9 - are going to get a player that looks like a sure bet in my opinion," said Lawton.

And among the clubs that have expressed interest in trading up are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Team president and general manager Brian Burke told TSN that he doesn't expect trade talks to heat up until the final moments before the picks are made. And he's ready for several possibilities with his team currently holding the 7th pick.

"We are prepared to move down, and we are prepared to pick," said Burke. "We like where we are, we like the group of players and we are prepared to move up."

Whichever personnel Tampa Bay ends up with after the draft, Lawton is in no rush to see instant returns on his investments.

"I think it's part of the building blocks. Sometimes we can all get carried away when we see players in certainly in the last five to seven years like Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin. That becomes the standard and the reality is that's not the standard," said Lawton.