Forward Thinking: The Egener Experiment Will Continue

When the Lightning made Mike Egener their first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, they projected him to be a physical, slick-skating defenseman who could one day be a team leader.

Now in his fourth professional season, that projection still rings true, but now with one major exception.

A position change.

With the Norfolk Admirals short on forwards to start the year due to four recent signees experiencing work visa issues, and a hoard of defensemen vying for coveted starting spots, it seemed like the perfect time for a career change of sorts for Egener. At Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster's request, Egener was moved up to the wing. The 6-foot-4, 213-pounder responded with an honest effort each night, physical play, and even chipped in a rare goal against his former team, Springfield.

Egener's career high for goals in a year - at the WHL, ECHL, or AHL level - is three (2004-05 Springfield).

Now that the four Canadian forwards are expected back in the Norfolk lineup, where does Egener, who signed a 1-year, 2-way contract earlier this year and was passed through waivers in September (though he didn't actually attend camp in Tampa), go from here?

Nowhere.

"We are going to continue experimenting with him on the wing," Feaster told Bolt Prospects. "We need his toughness in the line-up and we think he is a better fit on the wing. He likes it and is having some success."

The Lightning initiated a similar position change in 2001-2002 with former Boston second rounder and University of Minnesota defenseman Ben Clymer, who was signed by Tampa Bay as a free agent. Clymer, who was undersized for a defenseman when originally appearing for the Lightning, responded with a 14 goal season for the team the following year and played well on the wing over the next three years with Tampa Bay. He was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team before leaving as a free agent after the lockout.

The Lightning hopes this latest position change will bring about similar success.