The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have made 24 cuts from their training camp roster. With the Syracuse Crunch set to open training camp in a couple days, most of the players cut were expected to go to the Crunch prior to training camp opening. Only three players weren’t assigned to Syracuse; Mitchell Stephens and Jonne Tammela who will report to the Saginaw Spirit and Peterborough Petes in the OHL respectively, and James Wisniewski would was released from his professional try out.
Players that possibly will go to Syracuse that remain in camp with Tampa are forwards Joel Vermin, Cory Conacher, Brayden Point, defenseman Luke Witkowski and goalie Kristers Gudlevskis. One of Joel Vermin and Cory Conacher could make the team as the 13th forward with Ryan Callahan being out to start the season. Luke Witkowski is also battling with Nikita Nesterov to be the 7th defenseman, though you have to think Nesterov has a leg up in that competition.
The more surprising move may be the release of James Wisniewski from his professional tryout. He had played well in his pre-season appearances and he fit a clear need for the Lightning of a strong, offensive right handed defenseman that can contribute on the power play. One of the big questions surrounding him if he made the roster though is if he would be the 7th defenseman, or if he would take a place in the top six and possibly push Slater Koekkoek back to Syracuse for the time being.
Since he did seem to play well, and fit a need for the Lightning, the only guesses one can make about why the Lightning didn’t hang on to him is that they didn’t want to push Koekkoek down the depth chart or that Wisniewski was asking for more money than the Lightning could afford. Koekkkoek is certainly ready for the NHL and he showed that in the playoffs as he pushed ahead of both Nikita Nesterov and veteran Matt Carle for playing time as the Pittsburgh series went on. He’s got the skating and the passing to play in the NHL and his offense is coming along after spending his time in Syracuse refining his defensive play.
Here is the full list of players the Lightning cut from training camp.