Tampa Bay Lightning option three to Syracuse Crunch

At 5 PM tomorrow, the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to be at 23 players (or below) on the active roster. The roster reduction was mused about the past few days, especially after Saturday's game when Rick Bowness made remarks about the Tampa Bay lineup featured against the Panthers being close to the opening night lineup.

This afternoon, Tampa Bay made reduction of three players from the preseason roster, optioning defenseman Luke Witkowski and forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Cedric Paquette to the Syracuse Crunch. That reduces the roster to 24 players.

The last cut might not truly happen for some time yet. There's been speculation that forward Jonathan Drouin, who did not play in preseason due to his fracture d thumb, could be placed on injured reserve. This justifies center Vladislav Namestnikov remaining with the Lightning for the time being.

If Drouin goes on IR, it's possible for him to have a conditioning stint (what will be his preseason) in the AHL. That stint cannot last longer than two weeks. That move has not occurred yet.

Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov are the only two players on the roster who do not have to pass through waivers to be demoted to the AHL. If Drouin was demoted (which is not likely) he would be optioned back to his junior team, the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.