An argument can be made that from 1999 to 2007, the Lightning's best draft pick was defenseman Paul Ranger, the 183rd overall selection in 2002, who in October 2009 quit the team for personal reasons after playing 270 NHL games.
There is no argument, though, that in those years, Tampa Bay, with 88 selections, did not draft an impact player. Even its five first-round picks were busts, though goaltender Riku Helenius still is in the organization.
That is why the Lightning's minor-league system was bare for so long. But that is changing, as the influx this season of minor-leaguers to the big club shows.