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Syracuse Crunch get reinforcements as the Tampa Bay Lightning re-assign Joel Vermin and Michael Bournival

In a hopeful sign that the organization is getting healthier, two forwards are sent back to the AHL.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that forwards Joel Vermin and Michael Bournival have been re-assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. This should also be a signal that Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat are ready to return to action.

Vermin has played in 11 games for the Lightning this season with three assists, including one in last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. He played in two games during this call-up as a replacement for Ondrej Palat.

Bournival came up to the Lightning on January 8 for his fourth recall of the season. He clicked with fellow French-Canadians Gabriel Dumont and Cedric Paquette on the fourth, “French Connection,” line. In 17 games with the Lightning this season, he has a goal and an assist. He had missed the past five games with the Lightning, and his reassignment signals his return to health.

Even with their absences from the Crunch line up, Vermin ranks 10th on the Crunch with 17 points, and Bournival 11th on the team with 13 points. The Crunch currently sit in first place in the North Division. They have a one-point advantage and two games in hand over the second place Albany Devils. They also have an eight-point lead with the same number of games played as the third place Toronto Marlies. Bournival and Vermin will provide a boost to their line up up front.

With both forwards being re-assigned, it likely means that Ondrej Palat, who has missed two games, and Alex Killorn who has missed one game with injuries, are ready to return Friday. The Lightning have found their stride in the past two games and will look to continue that into the weekend’s back-to-back games prior to their bye week. The Lightning only have seven games left before the trade deadline to show Steve Yzerman that they’re still in the hunt.

If the team flounders over the next seven games, though, look for Yzerman to sell off a few pieces in an attempt to re-position the team for success in 2017-18.