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Lightning Round: It’s almost time for the prospects to take to the ice

The annual rookie showcase is this week.

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re getting so close. So close to the start of the season. This week signals another step closer as the annual Prospects Showcase gets underway on Friday. A horde of Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will head up to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on younglings from the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers.

The Lightning hosted this showcase last season and the four organizations have gotten together several times over the last few seasons for similar tournaments. These get-togethers help the scouts and executive leadership see how a lot of their youngsters have progressed over the summer in a slightly more competitive environment than the development camp that took place just after the draft.

In order to participate a player has to be 24-years-old or younger, have less than 20 games of NHL experience, and have an entry-level or lower contract. In other words, no one on their second professional contracts. Each team will dress 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders for the games and they will play three, 20-minute periods per game. Tampa Bay will be sending 20 skaters (13 forwards, 7 defensemen) and 2 goaltenders north for the tournament.

It’s interesting to see who the teams dress for these round-robin tournaments. It’s not always the best prospects, for instance Isaac Howard won’t be participating. A lot of the players going to Carolina are players that might be on the bubble of the NHL/AHL or the AHL/Juniors. Julien BriseBois and Stacy Roest do have some roster decisions to make and this will give them a little more information to help them decide.

For instance Jack Finley is 20-years-old and can play in Syracuse or head back to the WHL for another season. A strong showcase could be the deciding factor. While they will also be at the Lightning’s regular training camp that fires up next week, there are going to be a lot of other things coaches and the executive staff are going to be looking at (how will the defense sort out, who takes Ondrej Palat’s spot, etc.) so a prospect could get lost in the shuffle.

For Gabriel Fortier, Cole Koepke, and Nick Perbix this is also their first chance to make a case for starting the season in Tampa. They are three of the most likely candidates to fill spots on the roster and a strong showing this weekend could bring more positive attention and chances in the regular training camp.

It’ll also be the first chance for Lightning fans to see Jack LaFontaine in goal for the organization. He’s looking to earn a NHL contract (as well as show his former club, the ‘Canes what they moved on from). Also, it appears Ilya Usua will be there. As with some Russian players, the feasibility of a player from Belarus being able to travel to the U.S was in some question. It’s also a good indication that the 21-year-old might be playing in North America this season.

Per the Lightning here is the schedule:

Practice Schedule

Wednesday, September 14

12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. at TGH IcePlex (subject to change)

Thursday, September 15

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. at TGH IcePlex (subject to change)

2:30 p.m. charter to Raleigh

Game Schedule

Friday, September 16

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers | 10 a.m. (Invisalign Arena)

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators | 1 p.m. (Invisalign Arena)

Saturday, September 17

Practice Day in N.C.

Sunday, September 18

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators | 10 a.m. (PNC Arena)

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers | 1 p.m. (PNC Arena)

Monday, September 19

Nashville Predators vs. Florida Panthers | 10 a.m. (PNC Arena)

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 1 p.m. (PNC Arena)

All of the Lightning games will be streamed on www.TampaBayLightning.com

2022 Prospect Showcase Roster
Provided by Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning / NHL News

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