The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Erik Condra has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. The Crunch regain their captain, who missed the end of the playoffs and the beginning of this season due to a back injury. Condra had surgery after the season to fix the injury and has been skating with the team. He’s been cleared to play and will be in the lineup for the Crunch this weekend.
In a corresponding move, the Lightning have released Jason Akeson from his professional try out. Akeson has contributed a goal and four assists for five points in 11 games for the Crunch. He has a solid track record in the AHL, with four 20-goal seasons to his credit including a 20 goal, 51 point season for the Binghamton Senators last season. Akeson, a right-winger, could have been a valuable part of the Crunch line up and has showed well early in the season. However, Condra’s return from injury is pushing him out.
Cory Conacher has a firm hold on one of the top two right wing spots and leads the Crunch in goals and points. Matheiu Joseph has five points and Alexander Volkov has a goal and an assist. The Lightning likely want to keep Joseph and Volkov’s development going, and with Condra likely to take a right wing spot, there simply wasn’t room left to hang on to Akeson and still give him playing time.
In other moves, the Lightning have re-assigned defenceman Matthew Spencer and goaltender Connor Ingram to the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, and recalled Nic Riopel from Adirondack.
Spencer has not had many opportunities to crack the line up with the Crunch as a right-handed defenseman. Veteran Jamie McBain has a pretty much guaranteed spot on the right side. Ben Thomas has been the Crunch’s leading scorer from the blue line. Rookie Erik Cernak has been a very solid defenseman, and the early reports on him have been very positive. Spencer has only played in two games for the Crunch and his re-assignment to the ECHL will give him ample playing time.
Ingram has struggled in his rookie season with an .860 save percentage. Of course, that’s not much worse than the Crunch’s other goaltender, Michael Leighton, and his .867 save percentage. Ingram will get plenty of ice time with the Thunder and hopefully it will give him some confidence to return to the AHL later with more success.
Riopel has spent parts of the past three seasons as the Lightning’s 5th goaltender on AHL contracts. While he’s backed up games for the Crunch, he’s yet to make his on-ice debut for the Crunch and hasn’t appeared in an AHL game since playing 11 games for the Adirondack Phantoms during the 2010-11 season. He has 22 games of experience overall in the AHL and 132 games in the ECHL. In addition he spent three seasons in Europe playing in the England, Denmark, and France, winning a French league championship with Rouen.