Building of The Tampa Bay Lightnings Part 1 of 2

2024 Draft & The Forwards
7/8/2024 • Justin Levergneux

Building a consistent contender is no small feet & it takes years to truly build a potential “Dynasty”, but after the 2024 NHL draft GM Levergneux believes they have found the final puzzle pieces to build around. After an unprecedented 12 picks in the 1st round over the past 3 years the DCHL Lightning are set and must now wait patiently as the kids develop.


In this article I plan on diving deeper into my 1st 2 selections of the 2024 DCHL draft, while also looking back on future picks and young players acquired via trade. With the ultimate goal of projecting a future lineup. To start us off I will dive into my thought process when drafting Ivan Demidov 2nd overall and the later pick of Carter Yakemchuk at 11ovr.


Many expected me to draft Russian Dman Artyum Levshunov out of Michigan State with the 2nd overall pick. He was the original 2nd overall pick in the NHL and the DCHL Lightning had a very obvious need for future talent on the back-end. My plan was to draft the Russian Dman all the way up until July 5th, the night before the draft, when I traded 22ovr & NYR 2025 1st for 11ovr & Erik Karlsson. I made this trade as it allowed me to draft what I believe was the best player available while still guaranteeing I would get a premium defensive prospect. I believe that Demidov has skills only matched by 1 player in the past few drafts in Russian counterpart Matvei Michkov. Demidov on Bedard’s wing for the next 10 years gives me a duo with sky high potential that the league hasn’t seen. At pick 11 I knew 1 of Sam Dickinson or Carter Yakemchuk would fall to me, as an Ottawa born GM I was delighted too see the mean Carter Yakemchuk fall to me. Yakemchuk will set the tone beside Pavel Mityukov for years.


Projecting Future Forward Lines:

To finish of the top line headline by Demidov & Bedard we have 2022 1st round pick Danila Yurov. Yurov has exploded onto the scene this past year while playing in Russia, putting up 49 pts in 62 games in Russia top league. He is showing superstar potential and is arguably one of the top players not in the NHL, the fact Yurov is currently our 3rd option speaks to the heights his lineups can reach.

Our 2nd line features an exciting trio lead by 2021 5th Overall pick Kent Johnson. Johnson’s speed and skill will help lead a line that contains both a dominant sniper & strong two-way forward, his linemates being 2022 1st rounder Jiri Kulich & 2023 10th overall pick Dalibor Dvorsky. After a rough start to the year in Sweden Dvorsky went on to play 52 games for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL where he scored 45 goals and 88 Pts, securing his top line center potential in the process. Kulich on the other hand proved he has little left to show in the AHL with 27 goals & 45 pts in 57 games for Rochester, Kulich also dominated his age group at the WJC-20 with 6 goals and 12 points in 7 games leading Czechia to a Bronze medal finish. Kulich finished his WJC-20 career with a silver & bronze medal, 2 All-Star selections & 29 pts in 21 games. Fair to say this 2nd line will score some goals.


Our 3rd line is where we start to develop our culture of grit and aggression with a trio of Ridly Greig, Fyodor Svechkov & Oscar Fisker-Molgaard. This line will be sent out to change the tone and play hard minutes vs some of the best offensives lines in the league. Greig & OFM are built to play aggressive along the boards and are the types of players you love to have come playoff time as this is where their all out effort comes to play. Svechkov will also engage physically, but we will rely on him to anchor the 3rd line and take our defensive zone draws against apposing teams best players. It is to be noted this line is no slouch offensively with 2 former 1st round picks & an early 2nd rounder. Greig had 29 pts in 39 games in his lone HL season and is developing his NHL game, Svechkov is coming off 12 pts in 15 AHL Playoff games after producing 39pts in 57 games in his first AHL season, and OFM just put up 21 pts in 50 games as an 18 year old in Sweden’s top league.


Our 4th line currently features a former 1st round pick & 2 high upside boom or bust offensive talents. Leading the charge is 2022 16th overall pick Noah Ostlund, projected to be our 4th line center could be regarded as many teams top prospects or at the very least one of. On his wings our offensive dynamos Andrew Cristall & Jayden Perron, if either player can live up to their high-end potential we might see some movement in the top 6.


To finish off our forward group is a trio of intriguing prospects, 2 big bodied power forwards and a complimentary player who has thrived with high end talent around him. Anton Walhberg the 39th overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft is an ideal big bodied center who will at minimum carve out a role on the 3rd line of a contending team. Miko Matikka a towering RW out of the University of Denver will turn pro this year and has shown some goal scoring instincts. Finally we have Alex Suzdalev who dominated along side Connor Bedard in Regina, but has yet to find the same success without the generational talent on his side.


This will conclude Part 1 of a 2 Part Series “Building of The Tampa Bay Lightnings”.

LW1 C1 RW1
Ivan Demidov (5OV 2024) Connor Bedard (1OV 2023) Danila Yurov (24OV 2022)
LW2 C2 RW2
Kent Johnson (5OV 2021) Dalibor Dvorsky (10OV 2023) Jiri Kulich (28OV 2022)
LW3 C3 RW3
Ridly Greig (28OV 2020) Fyodor Svechkov (19OV 2021) O. Fisker Molgaard (52OV 2023)
LW4 C4 RW4
Andrew Cristall (40OV 2023) Noah Ostlund (16OV 2022) Jayden Perron (94OV 2023)
LW5 C5 RW5
Alex Suzdalev (70OV 2022) Anton Walhberg (39OV 2023) Miko Matikka (67OV 2022)