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Lightning finds that scorers are hard to get

TOM JONES
Published June 28, 2004

RALEIGH, N.C. - During the Lightning's Stanley Cup run, Lightning stars Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis cornered head scout Jake Goertzen.

Richards asked, "So, what are you looking for in the draft?"

Goertzen told Richards, "We would like to get some scoring. We're looking for a few snipers."

But, Goertzen told Richards, the draft was considered weak for scorers. Then Richards reminded Goertzen that he was a third-round pick and St. Louis, this season's league MVP, went undrafted.

"That's when I thought, "Jake, shut up,' " Goertzen said.

When the draft ended after nine rounds Sunday, though, the Lightning took only two bona fide junior scorers and one, Justin Keller, is a long shot after being selected in the eighth round.

Instead, the Lightning, for the second consecutive season, concentrated on defense. It used half of its eight picks on defensemen, including first-round pick Andy Rogers. The only scorer it took through seven rounds was second-rounder Mark Tobin.

"Before the last pick, we huddled and asked everybody's opinion and we really hadn't addressed any scoring," Goertzen said. "It just wasn't falling into place and there wasn't a lot of that this year. So we looked around and came up with (Keller)."

Keller, a left wing from Kelowna of the Western Hockey League, scored 25 goals last season, but is a bit of a flyer considering he is only 5 feet 10, 174 pounds.

"Overall, we're very, very pleased with the draft," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "We ended up with five of our top 50 (rated players)."

The Lightning came into draft with only five picks, but ended up with eight after a trade Sunday. Tampa Bay sent next year's third-round pick to the Flyers for three picks in Sunday's second day of the draft. The Lightning acquired a fifth-round pick and two sixth-rounders.

It used its first pick Sunday, a fourth-rounder, to take University of Maine freshman Mike Lundin, a former Minnesota high school player of the year.

Later, the Lightning addressed two specific needs starting with a player who can fight: defenseman Brandon Elliott of Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League, who was taken in the fifth round.

"We had a made a conscious decision ... to bring in a guy who likes to throw," Feaster said. "We need to start finding some of these guys on our own because they are tough to acquire. I think it's important to start developing some and our guys really liked him."

With its second pick in the sixth round, the Lightning addressed goaltending by taking Finland's Karri Ramo.

"We're very happy with (our draft)," Goertzen said. "By some standards, the draft was a little thin. But most of the guys fall into our team concept. They're all good people and good citizens and very excited about being a part of our group."

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