The Lightning made their final cuts, sending forwards Erik Condra, Cory Conacher and Joel Vermin to the Syracuse Crunch after all three cleared waivers Tuesday.
Combined with Nikita Kucherov’s sparkling new three-year contract, this means the roster continues to take shape as the NHL season kicks off Wednesday. The Lightning still have one spot open so any of the three could suit up Thursday, when the Bolts open the season at home against the Detroit Red Wings.
This also means that Brayden Point, the prospect who has been nothing short of impressive during training camp and the preseason, has made the Lightning’s opening night roster.
General manager Steve Yzerman attributed these moves to the salary cap. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times wrote:
Yzerman said part of that decision was salary cap based. That means $950,000 of Condra's $1.25 million salary won't count against Tampa Bay's cap, as well as none of Conacher's $575,000. "Some very difficult decisions," Yzerman said.
Condra, who signed a three-year deal in July 2015, didn’t make much of a permanent imprint with the team last season. He scored 11 points in 54 regular-season games — but played only three games in the playoffs.
The Lightning brought back Conacher over the offseason in a low-risk one-way deal. He’s the guy that brought Ben Bishop to Tampa. He originally signed with the Lightning as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
Vermin returns to the Crunch, where he’s spent the last three seasons. He appeared in six games for the Lightning last season, tallying one assist.