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Lightning Round: a look at the Bolts opening night roster and lineup

Lining up the roster, taxi squad, and Syracuse Crunch

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 28: Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates with the Stanley Cup following the series-winning victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Six of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place on September 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL requires opening night rosters to be finalized by 5pm ET today. As a result, a lot of players were placed on waivers and loaned to the AHL yesterday in preparation for that. At noon today we will know who has passed through waivers and those who have been claimed and are on their way to a new team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning moved 19 players off the team’s training camp roster in preparation of getting it down to the required 23-man roster (or 21 for the Lightning in order for them to stay cap compliant). Let’s have a look at where things stand, starting with the AHL Syracuse Crunch.

The Syracuse Crunch

Here is a rough lineup of NHL contracts that are on (or on their way pending waivers) the Crunch and will be starting the season in New York. In bold I have placed the players currently on waivers. In Italics are the Florida Panthers on NHL contracts that have been assigned to the team through the new temporary agreement.

I have placed them in some order relative to their skill sets based on draft position and previous seasons. For example, Serron Noel (FLA) is a very exciting prospect coming out of junior so I felt comfortable putting him on the first line.

Junior prospects Gage Goncalves and Jack Finley will join the Crunch to start the season. They will have to leave if the WHL sets a firm start date to their season. Until then, they turn pro.

I will be updating this post in the coming days/weeks as AHL camps get announced in order to provide a more full idea of what the Crunch roster will look like.


Boris Katchouk - Alex Barré-Boulet - Serron Noel
Gage Goncalves - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh
Daniel Walcott - Jimmy Huntington - Jack Finley
Henry Bowlby - Otto Somppi


John Ludvig - Luke Witkowski
Sean Day - Alex Green
Max Gildon - Dmitry Semykin
Jake Massie


Spencer Martin

The Taxi Squad

The following six players were placed on waivers for the purpose of joining the Taxi Squad. If someone here gets claimed, they can be replaced by someone on their way to the Syracuse Crunch. I assume no one is leaving Florida until rosters are confirmed at 5pm today.

As Howard Dolgan said a few weeks ago, this taxi squad consists of older veterans with NHL experience rather than prospects the team wants playing games in the minors. All six of these players have been placed on waivers and there’s a chance one or two get claimed today.

Chris Gibson is the team’s third goalie at the moment. As per the CBA MOU, every team is required to keep a third goalie on the active roster or taxi squad at all times.

  • Tyler Johnson (C)
  • Gemel Smith (C)
  • Luke Schenn (RD)
  • Andreas Borgman (LD)
  • Ben Thomas (RD)
  • Christopher Gibson (G)

Tyler Johnson

I punt. I have no idea what the Lightning are doing with Johnson here. Geo has written a great piece on the Johnson saga of this offseason and the team’s options for him and the team moving forward. One thing that is guaranteed with Johnson being played on waivers yesterday is the fact that he is not allowed to be placed on the active roster for the first game of the season. This was a weird new rule used to keep teams from exploiting LTIR.

Boo Nieves

One player unaccounted for right now is Cristoval “Boo” Nieves. He is currently on a PTO with the Lightning and has neither been released from it or signed to an NHL or AHL deal. It’s likely he won’t get an AHL contract, considering how short of money the league is right now. In terms of an NHL deal, the Lightning have only 46 contract spots, so he could be someone the team adds to the roster.

Unfortunately, he would have needed to be signed and on waivers yesterday in order to reach the taxi squad or Crunch in time. It’s unlikely he makes the team, but who knows. They can wait until after opening night and sign him then, that is also an option.

The Tampa Bay Lightning

With everyone waived and sent down, the Lightning have a roster of 20 players, the minimum allowed. These are the lines from training camp, with some small liberties made to account for Johnson and Schenn being waived. I have italicized the waiver exempt players. These players can be sent to the AHL or Taxi Squad at any time. Okay, it’s just Cal Foote.


Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Alexander Volkov
Blake Coleman - Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow
Pat Maroon - Mitchell Stephens - Mathieu Joseph


Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote


Andrei Vasilevskiy
Curtis McElhinney

Waivers Acquisitions

If my math is correct, the Lightning have enough cap space (LTIR pool money) to bring in a player to the roster. One forward, defender, or goalie at $1.4 million or less. My guess is a RW to fill in the spot on the second line. The team obviously wants to keep their first and third lines intact, the fourth line is interchangeable, it’s the second line that has the biggest missing puzzle piece.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any decent forwards on waivers (go figure), so unless the team wants a defenseman like Oliver Kylington or Nick Holden, they might not claim anyone.

Lightning Links

Paw-t Maroon plays with the Stanley Cup

Jay Bouwmeester announces his retirement.

The AHL has hired Hayley Moore as their VP of Hockey Operations. She comes from the NWHL.