Prospects To Highlight Lightning Exhibition Opener

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:

Drew Miller - Jeff Halpern - Blair Jones
Brandon Bochenski - Paul Szczechura - Dana Tyrell
Steve Downie - Brett McLean - Richard Panik
Todd Fedoruk - Zenon Konopka - Martins Karsums

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.

Aside from Hedman's NHL debut as the world's top ranked defenseman in the 2009 draft, other prospect story lines to follow include the NHL debuts of Richard Panik, Jaroslav Janus, and Dana Tyrell. Panik has already set the OHL on fire during the Windsor Spitfires exhibition season, racking up 3 goals and 5 assists as the OHL's second leading scorer during its pre-season action. Janus comes to the Lightning training camp looking to earn an NHL contract as the organization's #5 goalie after leading the Slovakian World Juniors squad to a 2009 medal round berth. Highly regarded 2008 2nd round pick Dana Tyrell will also be making his first hockey start since a season-ending knee injury cut his 2009 Canadian World Juniors tournament and 2008-09 WHL season short.