Drouin Looks to Turn Focus Back to Hockey

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Jonathan Drouin wants to put the focus back on hockey.

Three days after being assigned to the Syracuse Crunch, the 20-year-old forward refused to comment on his agent Allan Walsh going public with a request to be traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Drouin is finally feeling 100 percent and ready to play hockey -- wherever that is.

“I’m not going to answer any questions about the trade request,” Drouin said in the brief press conference before an optional skate Tuesday. “It’s between my agent and (Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman). The only thing I can do is play hockey here.”

What to Expect from Joel Vermin

The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled forward Joel Vermin from the Syracuse Crunch today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Vermin, 23, has skated in 12 games with the Crunch this season, posting three goals and 10 points to go along with two penalty minutes. He ranks tied for first on Syracuse for both assists (seven) and points. Vermin has recorded two goals and five points over his past two games for the Crunch.

The Bern, Switzerland, native has appeared in 93 career AHL games, all with Syracuse during the past three seasons, notching 16 goals and 44 points. Vermin set career highs last season for games played (73), goals (12), assists (21) and points (33). He’s also skated in three AHL playoff games, registering one assist.

Vermin was originally drafted by the Lightning in the seventh round, 186th overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.

BP Commentary: Every year there seems to be one or two players in the system who make a big jump. Last year it was Nikita Nesterov and to an extent, Tanner Richard. This year in the rookie tournament in Estero, Florida, it was Joel Vermin.

Talk about good timing.

Lightning Send Bulk of Syracuse Roster to Crunch Camp

The Tampa Bay Lightning reduced their training camp roster by 23 this weekend. All players reported to training camp with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch’s camp will take place in Lyon, France, for the second consecutive season.

Returning to Syracuse:

D Dylan Blujus
F Mike Blunden
F David Broll
D Charlie Dodero (AHL contract)
D Jake Dotchin
F Yanni Gourde
F Henri Ikonen
F Ryan Martindale (tryout)
D Joey Mormina (AHL contract)
F Philippe Paradis
F Tanner Richard
F Joel Vermin
G Allen York (AHL contract)

What to Expect from Nikita Nesterov

The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Nikita Nesterov from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Nesterov, 5-foot-11, 199 pounds, has played in 32 games with the Crunch this season, recording three goals and 14 points with at plus-4 rating and 26 penalty minutes. He leads all Syracuse blue-liners for goals and points while ranking tied for second for plus/minus.

A native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, Nesterov has played in 86 career AHL games, all with the Crunch during the previous two seasons. He has registered seven goals and 30 points with 65 penalty minutes.

Nesterov was selected by the Lightning in the fifth round, 148th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

What to Expect:

No player on the Syracuse Crunch has improved more since last season than Nesterov. There are two things to take away from that statement: Nesterov’s improvement and just how bad he was last year.

Namesnikov Sent to Syracuse

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that the club reassigned forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

Namestnikov, 22, has skated in 23 games with the Lightning this season, posting three goals and seven points to go along with four penalty minutes. He recorded his first career NHL goal and assist on October 13 against the Montreal Canadiens. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward has played in 27 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over the past two seasons.

A native of Zhukovskiy, Russia, he has appeared in 100 career AHL games, all with the Crunch, registering 26 goals and 69 points. Last season he set AHL career high totals for games played (56), goals (19), assists (29), points (48) and penalty minutes (40).

BP Commentary: Finally.

What to Expect from Vladislav Namestnikov

The Lightning recalled center Vladislav Namestnikov and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced Friday. Gudlevskis was recalled on an emergency basis due to an injury to Ben Bishop.

According to the Lightning’s press release, Namestnikov, 21, has skated in 31 games this season with Syracuse, posting 13 goals and 30 points to go along with 19 penalty minutes. He ranks tied for first on the team for points and assists. The Zhukovskiy, Russia native also ranks tied for first on the Crunch for power-play goals with six. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward has skated in 75 career AHL games over the past two seasons, all with the Crunch, recording 20 goals and 51 points.

He was originally drafted by the Lightning in the first round, 27th overall, at the 2011 NHL Draft.

Sustr Focuses on Big Picture After Reassignment to Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite being sent to Syracuse for more ice time, Andrej Sustr hasn't seen much game action.

The 6-8 defenseman, hurt on his second shift since being reassigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this month, practiced with the Crunch Tuesday. After missing five games, he is nearing a return to the lineup.

“It’s been pretty good,” Sustr said of working his way back into game shape Tuesday. “I’m aiming for this weekend.”

With Syracuse on a five-game losing streak, the addition of Sustr is a major shot in the arm to a struggling Crunch defense that has surrendered 23 goals in the past five games.

Panik Plans to Work His Way Back to Tampa Bay

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After skating in a red practice jersey Tuesday, Richard Panik reiterated his intentions -- he came to play.

In his first game of the season with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday, the 6-3 Slovakian winger posted an assist before absorbing a thundering check by the Hershey Bears’ Tyson Strachan. Panik quickly got up from the hit, and instead of taking the game off Sunday to rest and recuperate an apparent upper body injury, he was back on the ice against the Sound Tigers Sunday.

“He gamed it out against Bridgeport,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.

What to Expect from J.T. Brown and Dmitry Korobov

In the wake of the rash of injuries suffered in yesterday afternoon's game in Boston, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they recalled RW J.T. Brown and D Dmitry Korobov from Syracuse of the AHL. Brown and Korobov are two of the team's older, more tenured prospects in the system and both will look to get an opportunity to test their progress against NHL competition. Here's what to expect from each player:

Lightning fans should be a little familiar with J.T. Brown given he had a short 5-game stint with the Lightning in the 2011-2012 campaign after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown has exceptional speed, above average skill, and willingness to stick his nose in on the forecheck despite possessing a slightly built frame. He looked to have a spot in Tampa Bay heading into the 2012-2013 season before the lockout and injury problems took his career track on a detour. Playing in Syracuse, Brown has since adopted to more of a two-way role playing on a checking line with Mike Angelidis in last year's deep playoff run, and in a complimentary winger's role as his alter ego, "J.T. Brownov," playing alongside Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov on the Crunch's top line so far this year. His grit and heavy shot are assets on that line. Brown's selection may mean that Alex Killorn will slide over to center and also signals that Jon Cooper may choose a more defensive-minded, two-way approach to dealing with the team's post-Stamkos injury reality.

Dmitry Korobov (pictured) will be looking to get his first taste of NHL action after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, the Belarusian Korobov gained a significant amount of experience playing for Dinamo Minsk in Russia's KHL. Last year, Korobov played on the top-two pairings for Syracuse for much of the season, and with Syracuse's youth movement along the blueline he's taken on an even greater role this year with the Crunch. Standing at 6'3" 230 lbs, Korobov's most obvious assets are his size and strength. He does not shy away from the physical game and does enjoy pursuing the big hit. He also has underrated puck-moving skills as demonstrated by the 22 points he put up with Syracuse last year to go along with a very solid +20 rating. Like Radko Gudas, Korobov is a fan of the hip-check. Korobov's weaknesses are that his skating, while adequate, sometimes suffers from sloppy footwork in his stop-starts and pivots and like any young defenseman, his decision-making sometimes isn't 100% spot-on. With the Lightning's lack of depth at this particular position, and Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie already struggling to begin with, Korobov has a golden opportunity right now to move up the depth chart quickly and make his case to stay in the NHL.

Bolts Finalize Roster; Demote Drouin, Connolly, Tyrell Among Others

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have reduced their roster by 10 today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. The Lightning’s active roster stands at 23 players, with 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders.

The following is a list of players and where they have been assigned:

Mike Angelidis Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
J.T. Brown Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Brett Connolly Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Jean-Philippe Cote Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Jonathan Drouin Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Kristers Gudlevskis Florida Everblades (ECHL)
Dmitry Korobov Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Nikita Kucherov Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Matt Taormina Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Dana Tyrell Syracuse Crunch (AHL)

The Bolts will open their season on Thursday night when they travel to Boston to take on the Bruins with puck-drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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