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Lightning Round: Mitchell Stephens returns after recovering from injury

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He recorded an assist for the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night.

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AHL: APR 25 Calder Cup Playoffs - Syracuse Crunch at Rochester Americans Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two months after sustaining an injury in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mitchell Stephens played his first official game. That wasn’t in a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey however, but as a player for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. He played on the first line against the Rochester Americans and recorded an assist on Antoine Morand’s first goal as a member of the Lightning organization.

Earlier this week the Lightning assigned Stephens to Syracuse for conditioning, alongside Taylor Raddysh, who spent almost a month on a taxi squad. Since the cancellation of the 2019-20 NHL regular season in March of 2020, Stephens played in just 11 games, including seven appearances in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Therefore it seems like a smart decision to give the player more playing time in the AHL while he’s still returning to better shape.

Stephens’ way back to the NHL won’t be as easy as it was expected, because Ross Colton has worked his way into the Lightning lineup and has been playing as the team’s regular fourth-line center lately. In his first ten NHL games he’s already collected six points, including three goals. Colton’s time on the ice has also slowly increased in the latest games.

Lightning Links

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been named a Bolts best player of the month. The Russian goaltender set a new franchise record for the most consecutive wins in March.

Ben Thomas has been assigned from the Lightning’s taxi squad to the regular roster. NHL debut incoming?

The Syracuse Crunch have beaten the Rochester Americans on Friday night, extending their winning streak to five games. Antoine Morand scored in his first game since his trade from the Anaheim Ducks.

The Orlando Solar Bears fell to the Florida Everblades 2-3 in the second consecutive game.

Tampa Bay’s prospect Jaydon Dureau scored his first goal of the season for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

In his Weekly Lightning thoughts, the Athletic’s reporter Joe Smith discussed Odeen Tufto – latest Lightning acquisition [The Athletic, paid content]

“He’s a little cross between Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde,” Pecknold said. “Odeen still has to keep evolving to become those guys. He probably needs to get a little grittier. But that will come when he gets to pro. He was one of college’s top power-play guys, and in that I’d compare him with Johnny Gaudreau. He’s just got to keep rounding his game, and I think he’s got a chance.”

Hockey News

The Florida Panthers have traded forward Vinnie Hinostroza to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange of Brad Morrison. Hinostroza was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in 2012 and played over 100 regular season games for them.

A total of eight players and one staff member from the Vancouver Canucks have entered the NHL COVID-19 protocol.

The Detroit Red Wings placed forward Evgeny Svechnikov on waivers, former Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Nikita Gusev cleared waivers alongside with Tyler Ennis and Matt Luff.

Not only Antoine Morand shined in the first game since his trade, another part of that deal Alex Volkov has also scored in the first official game for his new team.