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Quick Strikes: Lightning preseason starts tonight and two young defenders get new contracts

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The Bolts start preseason play tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Tampa Bay Lightning hockey starts tonight! Well, sort of. The Bolts play their first preseason game tonight in Tampa against the Carolina Hurricanes. As always, don’t expect to see many of the stars play lots of minutes this early in the preseason. Tonight is a chance to see some of the prospects play big minutes and possibly even a couple of this summer’s draft picks before they head back to their junior teams.

Look for an article on roster options coming out here at Raw Charge in a few hours.

All seven of the Lightning’s preseason games will be available to watch for fans in the Tampa television market. The game in Orlando will be on Fox Sports Sun while the other six will be available via live stream from the team’s website.

Lightning Live Stream Schedule

Tuesday, September 18 vs. Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 19 at Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 21 at Nashville Predators at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22 vs. Nashville Predators at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 25 vs. Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 29 at Florida Panthers at 7:00 p.m.

At The Athletic (paywall), Joe Smith spent some time looking at practice film with new Lightning coach Derek Lalonde. Here’s an example where Lalonde describes the goal of one of the team’s defensive drills:

Lalonde: “We want five guys in tight. We’re trying to mimic our 5-on-5 and 3-on-3, break out of our zone and play fast. The first basic habit is being connected, with your stick down. You want to shrink the zone, get the breakout and play offense.

“The goal is to spend less time, as possible, in our zone.”

In news that will hearten most in Bolts’ land:

I was prepared to have to write about Sergachev deserving to be on the second pair in every ten-game report this season. But it looks like the coaches are at least considering starting Sergachev there. That would give the team a scary top four on defense to go along with their scary top nine forwards.

Here at Raw Charge, Geo wrote about the night Martin St. Louis tied Chris Kontos’ record for most goals in a game. That game was notable for multiple reasons.

The game came less than a week and a half after Team Canada’s 2014 men’s Olympic hockey roster for the Sochi Olympics was announced. St. Louis was left off of that initial roster, though he would later be named as an injury replacement for Steven Stamkos when his recovery from a broken leg would not allow him to be ready in time.

St. Louis was... not happy. He expected to be a part of the team and was not in a good mood when that wasn’t the case. It was reportedly one of the reasons that led to him asking for a trade less than two months later, which Steve Yzerman obliged.

Continuing with today’s extremely Joe Smith heavy edition of Quick Strikes, he also reported that Erik Cernak has looked great and even speculated that he might make the team out of camp.

This sparked quite an internal debate here at Raw Charge that will likely make its way into an article in the near future. I’m skeptical but some other folks think he deserves a chance. He’ll certainly be one of the more interesting players to watch through the preseason this year.

The Prospects

Justin wrote about the top half of the forward group in Syracuse this year. Depending on how some of the rookies play, this could be a scary group. With solid veterans like Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival, second year players like Alex Volkov and Matthieu Joseph, and rookies like Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, this group could be a Problem for other teams in the AHL. This is part one of a two part series with part two covering the rest of the forwards coming later this week.

Volkov literally came out of nowhere to lead the Crunch in goals last season. Drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft by the Lightning, there wasn’t much known about the 6’ winger (other than that he wasn’t this guy).

In the year that has passed, all he’s done is almost make the Lightning out of his initial training camp, lead the Crunch in goals ,and cement himself as one of the top 100 prospects in the league. (71st in Corey Pronman’s rankings).

Not a bad rookie season.

The Game

Two of the biggest remaining unrestricted free agents signed almost identical deals on Monday. First, Josh Morrissey signed with the Winnipeg Jets for two more seasons at $3.15 million per year. As usual with restricted free agents, the contract represents great savings for the team while the player will have to wait two more years to get market value.

Murat Ates wrote about the signing at The Athletic (paywall).

Josh​ Morrissey​ is going​ to outperform his two-year, $3.15 million​ AAV contract.

No​ one​ on​ the left side​​ of Winnipeg’s defence boasts Morrissey’s ability to manage gaps, communicate and execute switches, and keep track of multiple layers of offensive attacks. No portsider plays more minutes, either, or plays them as effectively as Morrissey does.

Later in the day, fellow defender Darnell Nurse signed for two more seasons with the Edmonton Oilers at $3.2 million per year. Nurse hasn’t been quite as good as Morrissey but he had his best year in 2017-2018 and has the ability to become a solid top four option in the NHL.

William Nylander is still the biggest name yet to re-sign but a couple other big contracts still need to get done as well.

The NHL announced the launch of a new site that houses historical records for the league and teams. It looks to have some useful stuff so if you like digging into that kind of thing, go poke around and see what you can find.

The league weren’t the only ones launching a site. Evolving Hockey published a big update with stats for skaters and teams. This a slick site that should be a welcome addition to the hockey analytics community. It houses not only all the stats you expect to find on a contemporary hockey stats site but also in-house expected goal and wins above replacement models.

And finally, former Lightning defender Nikita Nesterov scored a game-winner in OT in the KHL yesterday. I’m posting this for me and the three other Nesterov fans who still hang around these parts.