The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced their 24-player roster for the upcoming Rookie Tournament in Estero, FL, September 9 - 12. The Lightning prospects will take on prospects from the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and host Washington Capitals. The event is open to the public, and will be a pretty neat exhibition for watching young prospects play against each other.
I highly recommend making the trip down to see some games. They will be held on Saturday, September 9 at 4 PM, Sunday, September 10 at 1 PM, and Tuesday, September 12 at 2 PM.
The Lightning will bring 14 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders to the tournament this year.
At forward, the Lightning will bring draft picks Antony Cirelli, Brett Howden, Mathieu Joseph, Boris Katchouk, Alexey Lipanov, Christopher Paquette, Taylor Raddysh, Otto Somppi, Mitchell Stephens, Jonne Tammela, Alexander Volkov, and Dennis Yan. Rounding out the forwards are invitees Shane Conacher and Kevin Hancock.
On defense, the Lightning draft picks coming to the tournament are Cal Foote, Libor Hajek, Dominik Masin, Mikhail Sergachev, Oleg Sosunov, Matt Spencer, and Ben Thomas. They’ll also be joined by Erik Cernak who was acquired in the Ben Bishop trade from the Los Angeles Kings.
In goal, the Lightning will have draft pick Connor Ingram and invitee Joseph Raaymakers.
Nothing really stands out with the Lightning prospects already in the system. Everyone that was expected to come will be there. Conacher, Masin, and Thomas are the only players that spent last season playing at the professional level in North America.
About the Invitees
Shane Conacher followed in big brother Cory Conacher’s footsteps by going to Canisius College as an undersized forward. He played three seasons for Canisius before turning pro at the end of his junior season and signing an amateur try-out agreement with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. He played in seven games with them to end the season. He disappeared for a bit and didn’t pop up again until mid-way through the 2016-17 season, playing in three games for the Marlies and 25 games for the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL.
Nothing is guaranteed for Conacher as an invitee but it gives him an opportunity to showcase what he can do for the Lightning’s staff, up close and personal. Even if Conacher was signed to an AHL deal and played mostly in the ECHL, he would provide good offensive depth for the Syracuse Crunch.
Kevin Hancock was invited by the Lightning to development camp following the draft. Hancock finished with three goals and an assist for four points in seven games during the 3-on-3 tournament. Hancock finished last season with the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL with 30 goals and 85 points over 68 games an improvement from his 28 points in 66 games a season before. He added another seven goals and 11 points in 17 playoff games.
Despite his offensive breakout this past season, Hancock was passed over in the draft for the second time. If he shows well in the prospect camp and tournament, he could earn an entry level contract from the Lightning, but would be going back to the OHL for another season.
The last invitee, goaltender Joseph Raaymakers, was also an invitee at the Lightning’s development camp. He allowed the fewest goals (12) in three games during the 3-on-3 tournament. He also had the second best save percentage (.818 SV%) just barely being beat out by Connor Ingram (.819 SV%).
Raaymakers has also been passed over in two drafts, but he seems much less likely to earn a contract from the Lightning through his performance. Over the past three seasons in the OHL, he has had save percentages of .898, .891, and .889. Last season, his first as the number one goalie for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, his .889 SV% ranked him 28th in the OHL among all goaltenders and 17th among goalies that played at least 30 games.