The Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice Wednesday night in Dallas, TX for their first pre-season game against the Dallas Stars. Five of BoltProspects' Top 7 ranked prospects, including the top three ranked prospects, will help kick off the Lightning's 2009-10 hockey season. Highlighting the Tampa roster will be 2009 #2 overall pick, Swedish blueline phenom Victor Hedman. Hedman will be joined by fellow 2009 draftees Richard Panik and Jaroslav Janus. Forwards Steve Downie and Dana Tyrell along with defenseman Matt Lashoff round out the remaining top prospects that will be showcased in tonight's opener. Forwards Blair Jones, Martins Karsums, and Paul Szczechura represent three more Top 20 prospects that are fighting for roster spots on the Lightning's bottom lines with overagers Drew Miller and Zenon Konopka.
The expected forward lines for Wednesday's game are:
Joining Lashoff and Hedman on the blueline are newcomers David Hale and Kurtis Foster along with former prospects Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin. Joining Janus in net is 2009 free agent acquisition Antero Niittymaki.
Erik Erlendsson is reporting that the Norfolk Admirals head coach Darren Rumble said that former Lightning prospect forward Justin Keller will attend the 2009 Admirals training camp as a professional tryout. The 2004 8th round pick by Tampa was not tendered a qualifying offer this June by Bolt GM Brian Lawton after his three-year entry-level rookie contract expired. Keller was just one of two Lightning players under contract that was not invited to the 2008 training camp in Tampa. Keller subsequently started the 2008-09 season playing for the now defunct August Lynx (ECHL) but was recalled to Norfolk after just four games behind four goals and an assist. Keller went on to score career high 18 goals and 37 points in just 58 games for the Admirals.
The Tampa Bay Lighting announced the roster for their 2009 training camp on Wednesday. Camp is scheduled to start Saturday, September 12.
The roster includes six of the seven 2009 draft picks including Victor Hedman, Carter Ashton, and Richard Panik. The roster also includes prospect forward Radek Smolenak, who had planned to play the 2009-10 season in the KHL but had been recently cut from that team. The Lightning had retained Smolenak's NHL rights, and it has been rumored that Tampa is still interested in getting the gritty winger under contract.
Finally, as reported earlier today by Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the roster includes free agent tryout Brett McLean. The 31 year old veteran forward had his $1.7M salary bought out by the Florida Panthers on June 29th, and is looking to impress the Lighting enough to earn a contract.
According to a story in the Daily Graphic/Central Plains Herald out of Manitoba, Portage Terriers goaltender Bryan Mountain has received an invitation to attend the Lightning rookie and prospect camp in mid-July. Mountain, who backstopped the Terriers to a second-straight MJHL Championship in 2008-09, will suit up for the Northeastern University Huskies next season, an NCAA Division 1 school out of Boston.
There's a similar story on the Portage team web site regarding Mountain's camp invitation complete with photos of the goaltender receiving the Turnbull Trophy as the MJHL playoffs top goaltender.