In a little over three weeks, the Lightning will be playing their home opener against cross-state rival, the Florida Panthers, but in less than one week they open their pre-season against the Nashville Predators. With training camp opening on Thursday, September 18th, the over forty players attending are arriving in Tampa, ready to start the season.

On Tuesday, the Lightning made their announcement of 64 players who would be taking the ice on Thursday morning. Current Lightning players, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Matt Carle, Ben Bishop, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula, Radio Gudas, and Ryan Callahan are among some of those names. Training camp will also be fans first look at the newly signed Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Brian Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov, and Brenden Morrow in a Lightning sweater.

The training camp roster will see 22 forwards, 13 defensemen, and four goaltenders attending. Four of those are either an invitee or have an AHL contract with the Syracuse Crunch. Seventeen players were also acquired via free agency, 11 through the draft, and seven by trade.

 

After finishing the 2013-2014 season with 46 wins and 101 points, placing them second in the Atlantic, the Lightning are entering the 2014-2015 season with high expectations. The Lightning have come up with five major storylines that will play a part in the team’s success this season.

1. Can Goalie Ben Bishop Stay Healthy? 

Picked in 2005 in the third round by the St. Louis Blues, Ben Bishop really showed what he was made of last season. He set a Lightning franchise record of 37 wins, a .924 save percentage, and a 2.23 goals-against average, getting him on the list of finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

In early January, Bishop was placed on injured reserve, and missed several games due to a right wrist injury, an injury that was operated on over the summer. Bishop’s season ended just a week before the playoffs, when on April 8th, he dislocated his elbow, putting an end to the goalie’s season.

When the Lightning signed Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islander’s starter for the previous three seasons, on the first day of free agency, it was with the idea that he would back up Bishop.

2. Is Jonathan Drouin Ready to Make the Leap? 

The youngster was upset when he didn’t make the Lightning roster last season, and spent most of the offseason conditioning and building up his muscle, to make his run for a spot in the big league’s.

“Last year didn’t work out the way I wanted it to,” Drouin said. He was a first round pick (third overall) in the 2013 draft. “This year is a different story. I want to be on this club. I’m a step closer than I was last year.”

Drouin skated for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. He amassed 29 goals and 108 points in 46 regular season games. In the postseason he averaged over 2.5 points a game and tallied 13 goals and 41 points in 16 games.

3. Raising Expectations 

Last season the Lightning were the runner up in the Atlantic Division and were a top three seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It was a huge turnaround from their 2012-13 season were they were next to last in the division. Head coach Jon Cooper sees the increase in expectations placed on the team as positive.

“To be honest, I actually kind of like the expectations,” Cooper said to Lightning director of radio programming Matt Sammon. “I’d rather be the team that people are expecting to do well. That just means you probably have some pretty good players around.”

4. Avoiding the Sophomore Slump

Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson surpriseed many with how they played in the 2013-14 season. They were both finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy last season. Palat had 23 goals and 59 points in 81 games, and Johnson had 24 goals and 50 points in 82 games.

“We expect Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat to be better players than they were last year,” Cooper told Sammon. “And if they are better players then they were last year, we’re going to be a better team.”

Both Palat and Johnson have played under Cooper for three seasons now, with the Norfolk Admirals, Syracuse Crunch, and Tampa Bay Lightning. This fact could help them avoid a sophomore slump this season. The boys and their coach have been winners with every team. In Norfolk they won the Calder Cup, made it to the finals with the Crunch, and the NHL playoffs last season.

5. Can the Lightning Improve Their Penalty Kill? 

The team’s penalty kill remained a consistent problem last season. They ranked 23rd in the NHL, with a penalty-killing percentage of 80.7%.

With the signing of veteran defensmen Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, and the towering 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle, the Lightning are hoping to improve this coming season.

 

 

ADDITIONAL TRAINING CAMP ROSTER

 

 

FORWARDS (22)          
No. Name                         HT  WT    DOB   Born                            Acquired                   2013-14 Club
10 ANGELIDIS, Mike 6-1 210 6/27/85 Woodbridge, Ontario FA (8/3/10) Syracuse (AHL
46 BLUNDEN, Mike 6-4 216 12/15/86 Toronto, Ontario FA (7/1/14) Hamilton (AHL)
Montreal (NHL)
11 BOYLE, Brian 6-7 244 12/18/84 Hingham, Mass. FA (7/1/14) NY Rangers (NHL)
23 BROWN, J.T. 5-10 170 7/2/90 Burnsville, Minnesota FA (3/28/12) Syracuse (AHL)
24 CALLAHAN, Ryan 5-11 190 3/21/85 Rochester, New York Trade w/NYR (3/5/14) NY Rangers (NHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
14 CONNOLLY, Brett 6-2 181 5/2/92 Prince George, BC ’10 Draft (1st Rd) Syracuse (AHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
51 FILPPULA, Valtteri 6-0 195 3/20/84 Vantaa, Finland FA (7/5/13) Tampa Bay (NHL)
49 GAUTHIER, Danick 6-1 208 10/24/91 Repentigny, Quebec FA (3/2/12) Syracuse (AHL)
Florida (ECHL)
65 GOURDE, Yanni 5-9 170 12/15/91 Quebec City, Quebec FA (3/9/14) Kalamazoo (ECHL)
Worcester (AHL)
Syracuse (AHL)
9 JOHNSON, Tyler 5-9 175 7/29/90 Spokane, Washington FA (3/7/11) Tampa Bay (NHL)
17 KILLORN, Alexander 6-2 205 9/14/89 Halifax, Nova Scotia ’07 Draft (3rd Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
86 KUCHEROV, Nikita 5-11 184 6/17/93 Maykop, Russia ’11 Draft (2nd Rd) Syracuse (AHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
42 MARCHESSAULT, Jonathan 5-9 180 12/27/90 Quebec City, Quebec Trade w/CBJ (3/5/14) Springfield (AHL)
Syracuse (AHL)
10 MORROW, Brenden 6-0 205 1/16/79 Carlyle, Saskatchewan FA (7/11/14) St. Louis (NHL)
90 NAMESTNIKOV, Vladislav 6-0 179 11/22/92 Voskresensk, Russia ’11 Draft (1st Rd) Syracuse (AHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
41 NEILSON, Eric 6-1 201 8/18/84 Fredericton, Newbrunswick AHL Contract Syracuse (AHL)
18 PALAT, Ondrej 6-0 180 3/28/91 Frydek-Mistek, Czech Rep. ’11 Draft (7th Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
71 PANIK, Richard 6-2 215 2/7/91 Martin, Slovakia ’09 Draft (2nd Rd) Syracuse (AHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
43 PARADIS, Philippe 6-2 205 1/2/91 Dolbeau, Quebec Trade w/CHI (4/2/13) Syracuse (AHL)
52 SAMSON, Jerome 6-0 195 9/4/87 Greenfield Park, Quebec FA (7/10/14) St. John’s (AHL)
60 SMITH, Dalton 6-2 218 6/30/92 Oshawa, Ontario Trade w/CBJ (3/5/14) Springfield (AHL)
Syracuse (AHL)
91 STAMKOS, Steven 6-1 188 2/7/90 Markham, Ontario ’08 Draft (1st Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
DEFENSEMEN (13)        
No. Name                                     HT      WT      DOB      Born                               Acquired                        2013-14 Club
8 BARBERIO, Mark 6-1 200 3/23/90 Montreal, Quebec ’08 Draft (6th Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
2 BREWER, Eric 6-3 220 4/17/79 Vernon, British Columbia Trade w/STL (2/18/11) Tampa Bay (NHL)
25 CARLE, Matt 6-0 205 9/25/84 Anchorage, Alaska FA (7/4/12) Tampa Bay (NHL)
76 CORRENTE, Matt 6-0 205 3/17/88 Mississauga, Ontario FA (7/8/14) Charlotte (AHL)
55 COTE, J.P. 6-2 213 4/22/82 Quebec City, Quebec FA (12/18/13) Syracuse (AHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
5 GARRISON, Jason 6-2 218 11/13/84 White Rock, BC Trade w/VAN (6/27/14) Vancouver (NHL)
7 GUDAS, Radko 6-0 205 6/5/90 Kladno, Czech Republic ’10 Draft (3rd Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
77 HEDMAN, Victor 6-6 229 12/18/90 Ornskoldsvik, Sweden ’09 Draft (1st Rd) Tampa Bay (NHL)
64 MILAN, Dan 6-3 190 4/14/92 Detroit, Michigan FA (9/23/11) Syracuse (AHL)
Florida (ECHL)
Brampton (CHL)
45 MORMINA, Joey 6-6 220 6/29/82 Montreal, Quebec AHL Contract Syracuse (AHL)
6 STALMAN, Anton 5-11 190 8/1/86 Tibro, Sweden FA (7/1/14) NY Rangers (NHL)
62 SUSTR, Andrej 6-8 225 11/29/90 Plzen, Czech Republic FA (3/21/13) Tampa Bay (NHL)
Syracuse (AHL)
53 WITKOWSKI, Luke 6-2 210 4/14/90 Holland, Michigan ’08 Draft (6th Rd) Syracuse (AHL)
GOALTENDERS (4)      
No. Name                                   HT  WT    DOB        Born                                     Acquired                          2013-14 Club
30 BISHOP, Ben 6-7 214 11/21/86 Denver, Colorado Trade w/OTT (4/3/13) Ottawa (NHL)
Tampa Bay (NHL)
32 MANNINO, Peter 6-1 195 2/17/84 Farmington Hills, Michigan INVITEE W-B/Scranton (AHL)
Wheeling (ECHL)
20 NABOKOV, Evgeni 6-0 202 7/25/75 Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan FA (7/1/14) NY Islanders (NHL)
40 YORK, Allen 6-3 194 6/17/89 Wetaskiwin, Alberta AHL Contract Evansville (ECHL)
Charlotta (AHL)
Texas (AHL)
Rockford (AHL)
South Carolina (ECHL)
Syracuse (AHL)

via: Tampa Bay Lightning

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