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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014

Top-five draft picks in Lightning history

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Published:   |   Updated: June 30, 2013 at 12:31 AM

The The Lightning hold the No. 3 overall pick in today's NHL entry draft, marking the 10th time in franchise history Tampa Bay has held a top-five pick. Seven times the team used its pick to select a player - in 1999, Tampa Bay traded the No. 1 overall pick and in 2002, Tampa Bay traded the No. 4 pick to Philadelphia. Here is a look at the players the Lightning chose in the top five:

Year Player Pick Pos.

2009 Victor Hedman No. 2 Defenseman

Comment: Hedman continues to improve his overall game as a top-two defenseman, showing marked gains in each of his first four seasons. The 23-year-old, under contract until the 2015-16 season, has 16 goals and 89 points in 258 games.

2008 Steven Stamkos No. 1 Center

Comment: Stamkos is one of the game's top scorers and a two-time Richard Trophy winner as the league's goals leader. No other player has scored more goals than the 185 Stamkos has during the past four seasons. The 23-year-old is under contract through the 2014-15 season.

2003 Alex Svitov No. 3 Center

Comment: The big, two-way center never panned out for the Lightning - or any other team. Tampa Bay traded him to Columbus for Darryl Sydor in 2004. He is currently in his native Russia, playing the last six seasons with Salavat Yulaev in the Kontinental Hockey League.

1998 Vinny Lecavalier No. 1 Center

Comment: Lecavalier played his entire career with Tampa Bay before being bought out on Thursday and is the franchise leader with 383 goals. While not the 50-goal scorer he was while winning the Richard Trophy in 2006-07, the former team captain is a consistent 25-goal, 75-point threat, and his defensive game has improved.

1995 Daymond Langkow No. 5 Center

Comment: After four up-and-down seasons with the Lightning, which included a suspension for failing to accept a minor-league assignment, Langkow was traded to the Flyers. After scoring 27 goals in four seasons with Tampa Bay, he went on to score 270 goals in 1,090 career NHL games.

1993 Chris Gratton No. 3 Center

Comment: Gratton never lived up to his power-forward potential, but he played three stints with the Lightning. He first left the team as a free agent after four seasons. He returned in a trade with the Flyers in 1998 and served as Tampa Bay's captain for the 1999-2000 season. But in March 2000 he was traded to Buffalo. After subsequent stops in Phoenix and Florida, Gratton was traded back to the Lightning in 2007. He was off to a good start in 2007-08, but a hip injury marked the beginning of the end of his career. He retired with a respectable 214 goals in 1,092 career games while playing for seven teams.

1992 Roman Hamrlik No. 1 Defenseman

Comment: An offensive defenseman, Hamrlik was the first draft pick in franchise history. He played five-plus seasons with Tampa Bay before being traded to Edmonton. After 20 seasons and seven teams, he's still active during an NHL career that has spanned 1,395 games, the most by any active player.

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