The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Cameron Gaunce from the Syracuse Crunch. Defensemen Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi have been out the past couple of weeks with Stralman missing the past five games and Girardi the past four games. While the team has been saying that both are day-to-day, they have yet to return and indications continue to be that they’re still recovering from their ailments.
In their place, Jan Rutta has stepped in and played in the past four games, his first with the Lightning since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Slater Koekkoek. Rutta has two assists and is averaging 13:32 TOI in four games.
Cameron Gaunce is a veteran defenseman with 591 games played in the AHL, but just 32 games in the NHL. Gaunce is ideal as a leading AHL defenseman for an organization and as defensive insurance at the NHL level. His limited experience in the NHL and his ability level is what made it important that when the Lightning traded away Koekkoek, they got back a player of comparable quality for their depth chart.
This is Gaunce’s second call-up of the season as he previously spent just under two weeks with the team at the end of October into early November. He did not appear in a game during that span. If not for the emergence of Erik Cernak on the blue line as a very capable player, Gaunce may have had other opportunities for recall and to get into the lineup as well. As it is, Gaunce will serve as the seventh defenseman, assuming that no one else is injured.
One concern would be Mikhail Sergachev who took a hard hit into the boards from Tom Wilson on Saturday night. Sergachev left the bench for the remainder of the first period, but returned to the game to play in the second period. Gaunce will serve as further insurance if there is something more going on with Sergachev after taking that hit.