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Lightning Round: Analyzing the Opening Training Camp Lineup

Point (blue jersey) and Cirelli (white jersey) chatting on the ice at training camp
Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via Twitter

The Tampa Bay Lightning got on the ice for their first team practice of the season. The coaching staff, led by Jon Cooper, kicked things off with this lineup for the roster. This lineup looks fresh, with the possibility of players moving up and down the lineup based on preference and less because there’s no other options. The wingers are varied in their skillsets and overall very capable, and I like some of the options they have up the middle.

On defense, it’s hard to argue with the three anchors they have for each line and the collection of supporting cast members with size, mobility, and capability to be on each pairing. I’m still begging the team to get a Ryan McDonagh replacement, hopefully at the Trade Deadline.

Starting with the first line, it’s hard to argue with Hagel-Point-Kucherov. The trio is back for the long haul and there’s nothing you could complain about with them. The second line has Stamkos and Cirelli back, but with Conor Sheary this year. I think Sheary is an excellent low-cost middle-six two-way winger who can play with stars and punch in some offense. Excellent pickup. I’ve liked him a lot from since his Pittsburgh days.

The third line likely won’t have Alex Barre-Boulet on it when the season starts. Sorry, ABB, but we’ve done this preseason song and dance too many times for me to bite this year. My guess is Tyler Motte gets the role ahead of Eyssimont, through I like both options. The third line needs to have some level of offense (40-45 goals from the line by the end of the season) to work. I just can’t see Jeannot providing that (shooting percentages have never lied, I remember when teams made the big mistakes of biting on a hot year). I would love to see a prospect like Goncalves surprise in camp and take that job by storm. He has the upside to make it happen and he had a big year on the Crunch.

For the fourth line, don’t be surprised if the two wingers there currently get moved up. Glendening if the PEB replacement. While I would’ve rather just had Bellemare back, this is fine. He’s a veteran who can play centre and kill penalties. He won’t do enough to make a big dent in the team’s results. If he does, the waiver wire exists and there are going to be good players out there to be had. I feel like this forward group is waiting for one or two players (either within the group or externally) to force their way on. I look at ABB and Glendening and say, yeah these jobs need to be earned by someone.

One player I haven’t mentioned yet is Logan Brown. I’m not sure if I should be surprised he’s not with the main group yet. Maybe his reputation precedes him and he’s more meant for the Crunch. Time will tell, but he’s in the mix to start.

On defense, I like the three balanced pairings to get everyone’s feet wet. There’s time later to make a shutdown pair and stuff. Again, McDonagh replacement when? For now, these are the six guys, and if anyone at the bottom can’t cut it, there’s an impressive group of Syracuse Crunch players in the other session that would happily take the job.

Goaltending is Vasilevskiy. Jonas Johansson and Hugo Alnefelt will compete to be the backup. Generally with these things, tie goes to the veteran and the guy who needs waivers.

Let’s see how this progresses over the next few weeks!

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