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Crunch and Bolts swap blue-liners

A lack of playing time has pushed a former 2012 first round pick back to the minors.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek skating in a contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015-2016 season.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek skating in a contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015-2016 season.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Matt Taormina and have reassigned defenseman Slater Koekkoek to Syracuse Crunch.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise as many in the hockey world considered Koekkoek to be a lock on Tampa Bay's third defensive pairing out of training camp. The Lightning started their new campaign with a perfect 3-0 record and it seems as if John Cooper is going with the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mantra. That strategy will keep Nikita Nesterov, who has played in every game so far, in the lineup instead of the 22-year-old prospect.

Koekkoek, a 2012 first round draft pick by the Bolts, will join AHL Syracuse and will likely log heavy minutes this weekend. The Crunch play host to the Utica Comets Friday night before hitting the road for Wilkes-Barre Scranton on Saturday. In 60 games in the Salt City last season, the third-year pro posted five goals and ten assists before being recalled and finishing the year in Tampa Bay.

Hockey journeyman Matt Taormina will be heading to the big club where he will likely serve as a placeholder while Koekkoek gets some playing time in the AHL. Taormina has skated in 59 career NHL contests, scoring four goals and eight assists. His points were all accumulated during his time with the New Jersey Devils. This season with Syracuse, the Providence College alum has tallied one helper and has served as one of the team's alternate captains.