Tampa Bay Lightning announce final roster cuts; roster set at 23 players

Despite a strong training camp, Brett Connolly has been cut by the Lightning and sent to AHL Syracuse. - Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Despite a very strong camp, Brett Connolly is demoted to Syracuse; hot rookie Jonathan Drouin is returned to the QMJHL.

The 2013-14 roster cut down by the Tampa Bay Lightning wasn't going to prove easy in the least, and some of the moves by the Lightning show exactly just how tough that cut came out to be.

The Lightning pared down their roster to 23 players, a split of 13 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goalies.

The "Gun" line of Richard Panik, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat made the cut, while Brett Connolly and 2013 1st round draft pick Jonathan Drouin were sent packing to the Syracuse Crunch and Halifax Mooseheads, respectively.  While to this writer, the move with Jonathan Drouin is no surprise at all, the move with Connolly was.  Several bloggers (myself included) opined last week on the Tampa Bay Lightning's official web site just how impressed we were with Connolly's play during preseason.

Yet the opinion of bloggers is easily trumped by the team's braintrust, and the potency of line chemistry tops individual efforts, it seems.

The demotion of Drouin will be looked at as shocking by many who expected Tampa Bay to at least carry him for a nine game look-see (if not carry him all year).  He, as well as top 2013 NHL draft picks Nathan Mackinnon and Seth Jones were deemed NHL ready by scouts going into the draft.  With his abilities hyped, Drouin ran into one obstacle that couldn't be overcome: a stacked Lightning system and the need for third-line talent before top-line scoring.

Most every move, besides these two, was writing-on-the-wall moves... The only exception is the fact the Bolts will carry 8 defensemen, with Mark Barberio and Andrej Sustr making the team.  Sustr has impressed during camp, but with how the Bolts prefer to give young players playing time over press-box time, you could easily assume that Sustr was heading to Syracuse to get large minutes playing defense with the Bolts AHL affiliate.

This still doesn't settle the Lightning's defensive situation:  Brian Lee is on the roster, but he's on IR as he continues to recover from injury.  When he comes off IR, he'll have to pass through waivers to be sent down to Syracuse.

Below is the list of cuts made by the Lightning today.  I'll leave you to remark on the moves in comments.

LIGHTNING ANNOUNCE ROSTER CUTS

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)

J.P. 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)

Dana Tyrell, Mike Angelidis and Matt Taormina are all currently on waivers to be assigned. We'll know if they clear waivers in 24 hours.

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