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Lightning Re-Sign F Richard Panik to 1 Year Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Richard Panik to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Panik, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, played in 50 games with Tampa Bay last season, recording three goals and 13 points. He also played in 13 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League in 2013-14. With the Crunch he accumulated three goals and 11 points. Panik also played in two games during the Lightning’s Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A native of Martin, Slovakia, Panik has appeared in 75 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, with eight goals and 22 points. He won the AHL’s Calder Cup Championship with the Norfolk Admirals in 2012. Panik represented his native Slovakia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and skated in four games.

Panik was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round, 52nd overall, at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Bolts Ink Veteran Winger Brenden Morrow to 1 Year Deal

TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Brenden Morrow to a one-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Tampa Bay also signed forward Philippe Paradis (pair-ah-DEE) to a one-year, two-way contract.

Morrow, 6-foot, 205 pounds, played in 71 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14, recording 13 goals and 25 points with a plus-1 rating. He scored four power-play goals and three game-winning goals. Morrow ranked eighth on the team for goals and averaged 11:54 in ice time per game.

A native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, Morrow is a veteran of 921 NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Blues. He has accumulated 262 goals, 567 points and is a plus-108. He is a seven-time 20-goal scorer and has reached the 30-goal plateau on two occasions. He served as the captain of the Stars from 2006 until he was traded to Pittsburgh during the 2012-13 season. Morrow has appeared in 94 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, notching 19 goals and 46 points.

Bolts Re-Sign F Brett Connolly

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Brett Connolly to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Connolly, 22, skated in 11 games with the Lightning last season, posting a goal and four penalty minutes. His lone goal during the 2013-14 season came on November 2 against the St. Louis Blues. Connolly also skated in 66 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, recording 21 goals and 57 points to go along with 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound forward ranked first on the Crunch for both points and assists (36).

The Campbell River, B.C. native has skated in 84 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over three seasons, notching six goals and 17 points go along with 34 penalty minutes. Three of his six career goals have been game-winners. Connolly has also skated in 137 career AHL games, collecting 52 goals and 120 points.

Connolly was originally drafted by the Lightning in the first round, sixth overall, at the 2010 NHL Draft.

Lightning Sign Depth F Jerome Samson

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jerome Samson to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Samson, 26, skated in 68 games with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League last season, recording 27 goals and 56 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the IceCaps and 12th in the AHL for power-play tallies with 11. The Greenfield Park, Quebec native ranked second on St. John’s for goals and was third for points. He also appeared in 17 AHL postseason games last season, posting three goals and six points, helping the IceCaps reach the Calder Cup Finals.

The 6-foot, 195-pound forward has skated in 46 career NHL games, all with the Carolina Hurricanes over parts of three seasons, notching two goals and nine points. Samson recorded an assist in his NHL debut on January 7, 2010 against the Nashville Predators. He registered his first career NHL goals during the 2011-12 season while playing for the Hurricanes.

The undrafted forward has skated in 424 career AHL games with the IceCaps, Charlotte Checkers and Albany River Rats, posting 160 goals and 336 points to go along with 306 penalty minutes. Samson was named to the AHL First All-Star Team following the 2009-10 season after he posted 37 goals and 78 points while playing for Albany

Lightning Roster Speculation 2.0

Prior to the draft I took a stab at what the Lightning roster would have to look like to be a conference contender. In the write up, the generic “acquisition” player was slotted in both the second and third pairs of the defensive six, and Paquette and Callahan were in the top-11 forwards (Jon Cooper frequently dresses 11/7 rather than the traditional 12/6), adding grit, character, and physicality. The latter two were part of Cooper’s wish to balance out the size of the forward group while becoming a harder team to play against. I had a third acquisition on defense in the 7/8 spot, as well as the obvious No. 2 goalie slot.

Now a week after the free agent frenzy, Yzerman has done – in my opinion – exactly what was needed to become a conference contender. While he added two defensemen and not three, he added two to the top-4 instead of one to the top-4 and two to the bottom-3 on the blueline. Big ups to Stevie-Y for that. I also had Sustr slotting down to Syracuse – barely – in order for him to get more developmental minutes. That’s exactly what’s happened, too. Purcell also moved as expected, though that one was fairly obvious due to contract status and player type.

Before I bruise myself with pats on the back, I had Brett Connolly going to Syracuse due to the glut of forwards blocking him. This was a stroke of derpius since Connolly is waiver eligible and therefore a demotion to the AHL has a near zero chance of happening. Nice going, genius.

At any rate, here’s how I see the roster playing out come October. Lines are speculative, of course, as they’ll change five minutes into the first game. This is more of a who-ends-up-where list:

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