The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled winger Cory Conacher from the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Just days after losing Gabriel Dumont to the Ottawa Senators on waivers, it appears that the Lightning need another forward. While no word on injuries has been made official yet for tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals, J.T. Brown did get a fine-worthy slash to the face in Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He missed some time, but was back on the ice later in the game.
With Jake Dotchin suffering from a lower body injury and Cedric Paquette returning from injury, Jon Cooper returned to a 12 forward, 6 defensemen alignment against Chicago. If Brown or another forward is unavailable, it appears Cooper wants to continue with a six defenseman line up, necessitating the recall of Conacher.
Conacher currently leads the Syracuse Crunch in goals with six and points with 13. He also has the second most penalty minutes on the team with 36. He is a feisty player that doesn’t back down from opponents despite his smaller stature. He’s willing to fight and is a physical forechecker. Conacher has speed to burn and has the hands to make skilled plays. If Conacher is in the line-up tonight, and there’s little reason to doubt he would be, I would expect that he’ll be on the third line next to Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn.
It appears that, for the moment, there won’t be any additions to the Syracuse Crunch roster to replace Conacher. If no additions are made over the weekend, that would be a sign that Conacher isn’t likely to be with the Lightning for long and that whomever he is replacing is not out long term.
Checked with BriseBois, who said there's no Crunch additions as of now. That could change, of course. https://t.co/1K0e4uKaoD— Syracuse Hockey (@syrhockey) November 24, 2017
[Update:] Jon Cooper spoke with media this morning and indicated that a couple players were dealing with minor injuries and that Conacher was recalled just in case. With a back-to-back against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, there is some potential for more wear and tear. Especially since games with the Capitals and Penguins have been known to get physical at times. So Conacher may not even play this weekend, but we’ll find out soon enough.
#TBLightning Yzerman said a couple players are dealing with minor issues so Cory Conacher recalled as insurance for back-to-back.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) November 24, 2017
Conacher was originally signed to an entry level contract by the Lightning at the end of the 2011-12 season to start in the 2012-13 season. He made his NHL debut with the Lightning after the 2012-13 lock-out ended and had an impressive start. He was traded near the trade deadline to the Ottawa Senators with a fourth round pick for goaltender Ben Bishop.
After being traded, Conacher never reached the same levels of success he had early with the Lightning. He would end up with four different organizations over two seasons before spending the 2015-16 season in Switzerland with SC Bern. After an impressive season with Bern, Conacher returned to the Lightning for the 2016-17 season on a one-year, one-way contract worth $650,000.
Conacher failed to make the Lightning out of training camp, but was a call-up several times and scored a goal and four points in 11 games. In the AHL, he was a leader for the Crunch, scoring 17 goals and 60 points in 56 games played. He added another 12 goals and 28 points in 22 playoff games and likely would have been the playoff MVP if the Crunch had won the AHL Championship.
This summer, Conacher committed to staying with Tampa Bay by signing a two-year contract. The first season is a one-way contract and the second season is a two-way contract. This is his first recall of the season.