The following are projections for this fall’s Tampa Bay and Syracuse rosters. Projections are merely educated guesses based on history, talent, basic line composition, contract statuses, and information that’s been made available. All members of Tampa Bay's organizational roster are accounted for, as are AHL contracts. These projections are assuming no one is acquired/released, and is obviously for entertainment purposes only. They are also projections for Game 1 in October, not Game 41 or 82. Things will be much different then.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis
Teddy Purcell – Val Filppula – Jonathan Drouin
Ryan Malone – Nate Thompson – Richard Panik
PC Labrie – Tyler Johnson – BJ Crombeen
Extra forwards: Tom Pyatt, Dana Tyrell
Victor Hedman – Sami Salo
Matt Carle – Radko Gudas
Eric Brewer – Keith Aulie
(No roster limit)
Ondrej Palat – Vladdy Namestnikov – Brett Connolly
Nikita Kucherov – Tanner Richard – JT Brown
Geoff Walker – Mike Angelidis – Evan Rankin
Danick Gauthier – Cedric Paquette – Philippe Paradis
Extra forwards: Eric Neilson, Maxime Langelier-Parent, Carl Neilsen
JP Cote - Matt Taormina
Dmitri Korobov – Andrej Sustr
Nikita Nesterov – Joey Mormina
Artem Sergeev/Luke Witkowski
Injured: Brian Lee
First call-ups: Brett Connolly, Ondrej Palat, Matt Taormina, Andrej Sustr, Cedrick Desjardins
D Charles Landry
D Dan Milan
G Kristers Gudlevskis
Training Camp Predictions
1. Nikita Kucherov will play himself into contention to make the Lightning but ultimately be sent to Syracuse because of inability to move similar player types (Teddy Purcell, Jonathan Drouin [Too good for juniors])
2. Andrej Sustr will push Mark Barberio for the final defenseman spot but ultimately be sent to Syracuse to play heavy minutes (which Barberio has done).
3. Dana Tyrell and/or Tom Pyatt will be waived
4. Tanner Richard-Nikita Kucherov becomes the Syracuse version of St. Louis-Stamkos
Each scoring line is typically made up a worker, a shooter, and a passer. The above projections do not mean Killorn is above Drouin on the depth chart (arguable, though for now), but his style fits that line while still contributing offense. I debated swapping Panik and Purcell, but Purcell is an excellent sniper and Vilppula fits the workhorse mode there. It also prevents two rookies from being on the same line. Ultimately it's irrelevant as lines change all the time anyway.
Ryan Malone is included, though there is speculation he could be on his way out. If he is out, in my opinion Brett Connolly takes his spot in the top-9. Connolly needs more ice time than a fourth line role, hence his "demotion" here to Syracuse. Also, Connolly carries a $1,633,000 cap hit and the Lightning could be up against the limit. By comparison, Panik has a $900,000 hit.
JT Brown would be an excellent NHL checker today if there was a game, but he has offense to offer and that is only developed in a scoring line role in Syracuse. This was one of the reasons Connolly was playing top-6 minutes in Syracuse last year rather than a checking role in Tampa.
By being with the Lightning, Tyler Johnson provides another center if Jon Cooper wishes to move Filppula to wing at any point (which he has played frequently). Johnson is also an excellent penalty killer and faceoff man. He has also had two full seasons of prime AHL ice time, therefore this is the next step in his development. I expect him to move up a line at some point in the season and could move Filppula to wing full time in a year or two. He's listed here with two bangers, but like Guy Boucher, Cooper doesn't always use a fourth line, instead choosing to run three lines with the two extra forwards used situationally. It's extremely likely Johnson gets the odd scoring line shift in between PK shifts and key faceoff shifts.
Two years ago Yzerman got burnt when he didn't have enough depth to cover defensive losses (hence the Oberging). He corrected that last offseason and is in good position this offseason. Therefore, remember it's okay to have "deserving" candidates playing in Syracuse for a while. Alex Killorn proved you can play your way up and others proved there will be opportunities to fill in when needed.
Mattias Ohlund would have to be put on longterm IR to get under the salary cap with the above roster.
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