Tampa Bay Lightning Training Camp Preview


Apr 8, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center

Steven Stamkos

(91) skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning open training camp Thursday as 64 players will be battling for roster spots with the Lightning and their affiliates.

With that being said, there are a number of questions that still need to be answered heading into the 2014-15 season.

Who Plays on the Wing?

The Lightning are set at center with Steven Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler and Johnson and Brian Boyle but their wingers could be a moving carousel.

Ondrej Palat, Brenden Morrow, Ryan Callahan, Alex Killorn and J.T. Brown will all be locked into the line-up each night. Jonathan Drouin is expected to be there two. That leaves two wing spots for Brett Connolly, Nikita Kucherov, Richard Panik and Cody Kunyk to battle for. If Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov want to be involved with the Lightning then they may need to see time on the wing. It’s a good problem to have for the Bolts but it’s something that needs to be resolved in training camp and during preseason.

Does Drouin Make the Team?

The simple answer is yes. If Drouin doesn’t make the team it’d be a big shock. The Lightning sent Drouin back to Halifax last season for another year of junior and he was outstanding again. He still has to earn his spot but it’s a foregone conclusion that the 2013 third overall draft pick will be with the Lightning when they begin their season.

Who Plays on Defense Every Night?

Remember when the Lightning had atrocious depth on defense? Well that’s certainly not the case anymore. The Bolts now have eight reliable men they could send out on a nightly basis. Victor Hedman, Jason Garrison, Radko Gudas, Anton Stralman and Matt Carle will be assured of their spot every night. Eric Brewer, who had an improved 2013-14 season, figures to be the sixth d-man but don’t be surprised if/when Mark Barberio or Andrej Sustr play.

Who Do The Lightning Carry?

NHL teams are allowed to carry as many as 23 players, 20 of which must be active on game night. With that being said, do the Bolts want to carry 14 forwards and seven defensemen on top of their two goalies or have 13 forwards and eight d-men? For players who could be healthy scratches, the Lightning need to weigh whether it’s beneficial to have them with the big club or to have them playing nightly in the AHL. The Lightning have the numbers to make either option work but it’ll be interesting to see what direction they go.

The Bolts’ full training camp schedule can be found by clicking here. Tampa Bay play their first preseason game at home against the Nashville Predators on Sept. 23. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.