While there certainly are benefits to having a taxi squad of players at a team’s disposal for the entire season, it also brings a few new problems as well. One of them is keeping players fresh who haven’t played in a few weeks. On Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning cycled a couple of players from the Syracuse Crunch up to their taxi squad. Spencer Martin and Taylor Raddysh were brought up while Gemel Smith and Christopher Gibson headed to the Crunch.
Gibson has been on the taxi squad since the beginning of the season, and while he has dressed for a few games, has yet to appear in any for the Lightning. He is likely see a few games for the Crunch just to knock off the rust. Smith appeared in four games for the Lightning, recording three assists while averaging under ten minutes a game. However, his playing time has been limited since the return of Anthony Cirelli to the line-up. Coach Cooper has elected to play Ross Colton or Alex Volkov on the fourth line.
Smith should help the ailing Crunch offense as he has a history of producing at the AHL level. In 283 games over five seasons he’s recorded 166 points (73 goals, 93 assists). Last season he was one of Syracuse’s offensive leaders with 22 goals and 18 assists in 50 games.
Spencer Martin will assume Gibson’s role as the third goalie in Tampa and is unlikely to see much playing time for the Bolts. As for Raddysh, it will be interesting to see if Coach Cooper works him into the line-up as he did Alex Barré-Boulet and Ross Colton. With roster changes likely in the offseason it would be nice to get a showcase of how one of their top prospects might perform at the NHL level.
Ranked 9th in our most recent Top 25 Under 25, Raddysh has the skills to be a scoring winger in the NHL, but has to be more consistent with his effort on a night-to-night basis. So far this year in Syracuse he’s recorded 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 9 games while averaging over 20 minutes a night. A big kid (6’3”, 216 lbs) he will have to show Coach Cooper a willingness to fight for the puck along the boards if he wants to stick with the team for more than a cup of coffee.
The Lightning’s taxi squad currently stands at six: Raddysh, Martin, Luke Schenn, Barré-Boulet, Colton, and Andreas Borgman. It is possible that at least one more forward is sent back to Syracuse before the Crunch’s next game on Friday against Utica.
While Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta aren’t expected to be out long-term, their recent injuries have exposed how thin the Lightning are on the right side of the defense. The chances of them fixing that via a trade are pretty slim.
It’s unlikely the Crunch can provide any help for the Lightning on the blueline, because, well, they have their own issues. So much so that Jimmy Huntington, a forward, was taken shifts on the back end as part of Syracuse’s penalty kill. Good times!
It isn’t the prettiest part of hockey, but getting in front of the net does pay off. Especially with the Lightning’s hankering for shooting from the point.
It’s a bobblehead and a bubble hockey player. The folks over at Foco are releasing a limited edition Nikita Kucherov “Bubble Series Bobblehead”. Priced at $60, they will ship in June and be individually numbered out of 360.
With fans finally in the building, the Lightning’s 2020 Stanley Cup banner will finally complete it’s journey to the rafters and hang near the 2004 one. While the banner was revealed on opening night, it has hung just over one of the tunnels off to the side of the ice. While only about 3,800 fans will be in attendance, the rest of Lightning nation can watch on Fox Sports Sun...well, those who are able to get FSS on their cable provider.
In a memo to the league’s clubs, the NHL has proposed making a few changes to the draft lottery. Teams would be limited to two lottery wins in a five-year period. A team can only jump 10 spots with a lottery win. Instead of three lottery spots there would only be two. If approved by the NHL Board of Governors the first two changes would happen in 2022 while the third take place in the next draft, whenever that may happen.
Behind the NHL Network’s all-woman production (subscription required)
On Monday, the NHL Network recognized International Women’s Day by airing an all-female production of NHL Now, the flagship daily program on the network. Jamie Hersch, Lauren Gardner, Jackie Redmond, and Kendall Coyne Schofield co-hosted. The Athletic chatted with them before broadcast aired.
The NHWL announced that they will resume the Isobel Cup Playoffs that were suspended earlier this year due to a COVID outbreak. The tournament will pick up with the semi-finals and be aired on NBCSN and streamed on Twitch.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since sports was shut down. ESPN chats with some players and executives about what they’ve learned about life. the universe, and everything else during the pandemic.