by Ken Peacock
With training camps in full swing and the October 7 season opener rapidly approaching the Lightning are getting ready to start thinning out the roster. It is anticipated that the Lightning will announce major cuts after the pre-season games this weekend. Blair Jones couldn’t have said it better in comparing each pre-season match to a Stanley Cup playoff game. For those on the bubble it’s time for their best performance. For those destined to the AHL and beyond it’s time to leave a positive impression on the coaching staff and management.
The goalie and defense positions are pretty much set in stone. The same could be said with the forwards. There is one opening, but a long list of qualified candidates applying for the job. Dana Tyrell who spent last season with the Lightning joins the ranks that includes Admirals forwards Blair Jones and Matias Ritola. Jones, who had a great post season run with the Lightning, has been very impressive in camp this year and I would say is definitely on the short list. Also looking in are prospects Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly also have a slim shot at a roster spot. Norfolk Admiral, Cory Conacher, has had to be one of the brightest parts of the Lightning camp. Conacher has had a great camp and has shown the Lightning what he can do. While he is on a AHL contract he has definitely shown that he has what it takes to earn an NHL contract.
So how has the Lightning done this pre-season camp? Not to well, playing and losing every contest so far. The prospects played 3 games against the Panther and Predator prospects followed up by 2 pre-season matches pitching the vets and prospects against the St. Louis Blues. The Lightning hope to take an upward turn starting this Friday against the Panthers. Tampa Bay’s roster currently stands at 53 players. Vladislav Namestnikov was returned to his junior club, London Knights (OHL), this afternoon. Cuts will be made after the pair of games against the Panthers this weekend. These cuts should help fill out the Admirals camp next week. The Lightning will finish up the preseason with a pair of games against the Montreal Canadiens.