With the twenty-seventh pick in the 2016 NHL Draft the Tampa Bay Lightning have selected Brett Howden from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
About Brett Howden
Brett Howden completed his second full year of major junior hockey with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL in 2015-16. During that season, Howden, a 6’3″, 190 lb. center, compiled 24 goals and 40 assists for 64 points in 68 games. With the Warriors, Howden was a second-line center playing behind fellow Lightning prospect Brayden Point (drafted 79th overall in the 2014 draft).
Despite averaging under a point per game in the regular season for the Warriors, Howden had a strong performance in two rounds of the playoffs, tallying 11 assists and 15 points in 10 games. After the Warriors were eliminated from the playoffs, Howden was selected to Canada’s World Under-18 team and scored 5 goals and 8 points in 6 games.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 25, 2016
Howden’s Future with the Tampa Bay Lightning
Given the realities of the salary cap era in the present-day NHL and the amount of young talent that GM Steve Yzerman and his scouting staff have acquired through the draft, trades and free agency, Howden will have to work his way up the ranks before playing for the Lightning.
Despite the on-ice success of the Lightning, off the ice Yzerman is handling numerous contracts expiring in a two-year period. The most notable of which is captain Steven Stamkos, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent if unsigned by July 1, and who may have his rights traded in a matter of days.
A large amount of the core of the Lightning’s current stable of young talent was acquired during the 2011 NHL Draft. During that draft, these picks included Valdislav Namestnikov (27th), Nikita Kucherov (58th), Nikita Nesterov (148th), and Ondrej Palat (208th).
During the 2012 NHL Draft the Lightning added to that core of young talent by selecting players like Slater Koekkoek (10th overall), Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th overall) and Cedric Paquette (101st overall).
The Lightning also selected Jonathan Drouin (3rd overall in 2013), Kristers Gudlevskis (124th overall in 2013), Anthony DeAngelo (19th overall in 2014), Mitchell Stephens (33rd overall in 2015), and Matthew Spencer (44th in 2015).
Offensively, Kucherov and Palat have each established themselves as leaders and are two of the team’s most valuable players, while players like Namestnikov and Paquette have provided depth during their time with the Lightning.
After a roller coaster 2015-16 season, Jonathan Drouin may ultimately surpass Palat and Kucherov with the amount of offensive upside he demonstrated during a deep playoff run that ended in the Eastern Conference Final.
Despite drafting Stephens in 2015 and with a roster that currently consists of centers Stamkos, Valteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Ryan Callahan, and Brian Boyle, there seems to be a realistic chance that Stamkos and Filppula may not be on the 2016-17 roster.
Given the amount of depth that the Lightning have at offense (and at center), it does not seem likely that Howden will be a part of this team in the immediate future. However, given the path that many of the team’s current stars have taken through the Lightning’s AHL affiliate (Syracuse Crunch), if Howden can complete his junior hockey career and develop as a player in the AHL, it will only be a matter of time before Howden is playing at the Amalie Arena.