It was June 8th, 1983 when two young players took their first step towards becoming a NHL player. One an American born high school player drafted 1st overall and the other a Canadian player playing for Peterborough drafted 4th overall. Being drafted in the first round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft is about all these two players have in common as one player went onto play under 500 NHL games with no real success while the other become one of the greatest leaders to ever play.
Brian Lawton has the distinction of being the first American ever-drafted 1st overall and one of the biggest busts in draft history. Lawton also has the distinction of being the only high school player ever drafted 1st overall and there is a reason for that. Lawton never played a full NHL season and played for 6 different teams over 10 NHL seasons. Lawtonís best season was his 4th season where he scored 21 goals and 44 points. Lawton played in just 11 NHL playoff games scoring just 1 goal and 2 points. After his playing career Lawton became a player agent before he was appointed the 5th general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and much like his playing career Lawton didnít last very long in this position either (2 NHL seasons). Lawton made 9 trades and the only player of any significance that he brought in was Steve Downie; Lawton was not able to sign any big named free agents either. Under Lawton the Lightning finished 2nd and 4th LAST in the Eastern Conference. Not only was Lawton a bust as a player but also as a GM.
Steve Yzerman is the new GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning and much like on draft day back in June of 1983 Yzerman got the nod after Lawton. Yzerman became the captain at just 21 years old and is the longest serving captain for a team in NHL history. Yzerman was a dominate offensive player whose scored 100+ points in 6 seasons before he turned his attention to being a strong 2-way player and lead Detroit to 3 Stanley Cups as a player and 1 Stanley Cup while in the front office. Not only did Yzerman win the Olympic Gold Medal as a player but also as the General Manager this past Olympics. Yzerman had a hall of fame career and saw his #19 retired to the rafters in the Joe Louis Arena, I guarantee you that you will never see any of Lawtonís 7 different numbers retired anywhere.
What does all this mean for your fantasy roster? Well Yzerman knows what it takes to be apart of a winning professional hockey team something Lawton never did. Yzerman is well respected around the NHL and that will go a long way in bringing in free agents. Yzerman was trained by one of the best GMs in the NHL and that experience will help give Yzerman the confidence to build Tampa Bay into a winner again.
Under Lawton Vincent Lecavalier saw his production drop from 108 and 92 to 67 and 70. Guys will want to play for Yzerman the same canít be said about Lawton. Now is the time to grab Lecavalier if you can his value is at an all-time low.
Yzerman knows a thing or two about Swedish defenceman, as he played with one of the greatest defenseman of all-time for over a decade so you can bet he will closely watch the development of Victor Hedman. Another young player to watch is Carter Ashton who almost made the Lightning last year and with a strong summer could make the team next season. Yzerman played 2 NHL seasons with Carterís dad (Brent).
Yzermanís priorities are to re-sign Steven Stamkos to a long-term contract and to hire a coach that fits into his philosophy.
Watch the free agent season to see whom Yzerman signs, as they will be quality players who will produce for Yzerman. He wonít be able to change the team overnight so be patient as it will likely take a year or two for them to become a contender again in the Southeast so players you want to key on are the players he signs to long term deals. By signing Yzerman Tampa Bay is already a better team.