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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay recalls Cameron Gaunce

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But probably Cal Foote deserved a chance too.

NHL: APR 06 Lightning at Bruins Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After losing Jan Rutta and Ryan McDonagh in two consecutive games to injuries, the Tampa Bay Lightning were left with six defenseman on their roster, including Luke Schenn who played in his last game on the New Year’s eve. To fill the spot the Lightning recalled 29-year old defenseman Cameron Gaunce from the Syracuse Crunch.

Gaunce signed a two-year contract with the Lightning in July, 2018. Since that moment he spent most of his time with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. Last season he played in 54 games for Syracuse, scoring 46 (10+36) points and setting his career high. He also appeared in four playoff games last spring, recording two assists. This season he already scored 28 (4+24) points in 47 games and currently leads all defenders in Syracuse.

Over the previous season Cameron Gaunce had been recalled twice by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but made his debut for the team during his second recall, while Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi were recovered from injuries. He played in two games against the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, averaging a solid 15 minutes per game. He haven’t been recalled during the current season until yesterday

The team will hold a practice today prior to the game against the New York Islanders. Until this moment, we will not know what combination the coaching staff will choose. Probably the most obvious decision is to leave Sergachev on the first pair with Victor Hedman, while experienced Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn will play on the third pair.

However the message about recalling Gaunce has been greeted with some skepticism by fans, as most of them expected Cal Foote to be recalled. In his yesterday’s Morning After Thoughts Matt also expressed an opinion that it would be worth it to give a look at the 21-year old defenseman. Foote has already played in 131 regular season games in the AHL, scoring 58 (16+42) points and in 11 playoff games with two points. This season he has 26 (5+21) points 49 games and is on pace for setting the career high in the AHL.

Early in January, Joe Smith of the Athletic visited Syracuse and talked to the Crunch head coach Ben Groulx about the Lightning prospects in Syracuse, including Cal Foote. Groulx was high on Foote, praising his defensive skills in the interview [The Athletic, paid content]

“I like his progression. From where he was last year to now, I think he’s more assertive, he’s got more confidence making plays and all of that. He’s got to use every tool he’s got, a little like Barre-Boulet. If you’re not the best skater, you’ve got to make sure you pass the puck at the right time, shoot the puck at the right time, use your stick properly. It’s something he does way better. When he defends, he’s got a long reach and his stick is in the way. He makes plays because of that. He’s more physical. He’s playing 18-19-20 minutes, power play, PK. Defensively, he’s better — offensively, too. Skating, he’s got to keep working on — no doubt it is his agility. I’d like to see him move better, east-west, north-south, there’s still improvement to do there.”

It’s logical that the Lightning went with the safest option, but probably it was a right moment to give a chance to make his debut to Cal Foote. The team is on five-game winning streak and sitting at the comfortable place in the standings. Giving Foote a strong pair like Victor Hedman would help him to feel more confident during his debut. What do you think?

Lightning Org News

The Syracuse Crunch beat the Rochester Americans last night 5-3. Gemel Smith scored twice and Alex Barre-Boulet had a three-point night, recording one goal and two assists

The Orlando Solar Bears were defeated by the South Carolina Stingray, Richie Boyd scored the only goal for the Solar Bears

The Lightning players attended the Jim Kancer event last night

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Lightning will held a Hockey Day at Amalie Arena. A wide range of activities also includes an Alumni Skills Competition. See the rosters below

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