The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have cut 12 players from the training camp roster. Forwards Anthony Cirelli, Adam Erne, Brett Howden, Mathieu Joseph, Tye McGinn, Matthew Peca, Mitchell Stephens, and Dennis Yan, and defensemen Erik Cernak, Jamie McBain, Ben Thomas, and Daniel Walcott have been cut. All but Brett Howden have been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch who open training camp on Tuesday.
Brett Howden will return to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL and finish out his junior career as Captain there. Like Brayden Point two pre-seasons ago, he got an extended look by the Lightning during the preseason. It should be taken as a sign that the Lightning have high hopes for him. While it’s too early to say he’ll be on the roster in 2018-19, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pushing for a spot with his skill set.
With eight NHL defensemen already on the roster, Thomas, Spencer, and Cernak were long shots to make the team and would have had to have absolutely incredible pre-seasons to make a case for displacing Mikhail Sergachev, Slater Koekkoek, or Jake Dotchin.
Jamie McBain and Tye McGinn are both veterans that were always expected to be assigned to the Syracuse Crunch to provide leadership to a young group of players.
Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, and Anthony Cirelli also seemed like long shots to make the roster. They’re good young prospects, but they are just starting their professional careers. Brayden Point has been the only player in the Yzerman Era to make the Lightning’s opening night roster as a professional rookie eligible for assignment to the AHL. Yan also falls into this group, but was not a serious consideration to make the roster.
The two surprises in the group are Erne and Peca. Both had strong preseason performances and have impressed. Both were vying for a spot on the third line. Apparently their performances were not good enough to earn a spot and they’ll return to the AHL. However, I would expect that both of these players will be near the top of the injury replacement recall list.
This leaves what appears to be four forwards that are vying for a roster spot; Michael Bournival, Cory Conacher, Gabriel Dumont, and Alexander Volkov. Volkov has been particularly impressive during the preseason. He’s been showing the kind of skill and drive that the Lightning’s scouts saw in him in Russia. Dumont has also been very good in the faceoff circle and showing a lot of jump in his step. Bournival similarly has been bringing a fast physical game. Conacher has been okay, just okay.
Three of the other four remaining players on the roster are, or are believed to be, injured: Erik Condra, Jonne Tammela, and Dominik Masin. Condra is recovering from off-season back surgery. Tammela is recovering from a knee injury suffered last season. Masin was rumored by a fan to be in a walking boot before a practice, but nothing has been reported on him. The last is Carter Verhaeghe. Verhaeghe has yet to play in a pre-season game and it’s unclear what his status is. He was acquired from the New York Islanders in exchange for Kristers Gudlevskis.