Jean-Philippe Cote is not a household name.
The son of former Quebec Nordique Alain Cote, “J-P” has been with the Lightning organization for the past two seasons. A two-time Calder Cup winner, the defenseman is as much a reason for the Tampa Bay affiliate’s Cup runs these last two years as more recognizable names like Tokarski, Desjardins, Gudas, Panik, Johnson, and Palat.
Cote is 31 years old. He’s not a young prospect like Andrej Sustr or J. T. Brown in the early stages of their development. But Sustr and Brown don’t come close to their talent ceilings without Cote and players like him.
“He’s invaluable,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said last year when coaching Cote’s Syracuse Crunch.
"He's a guy who's been around the block and has played a few games in the NHL," Cooper said. "He's seen it all and done it all. You can't have enough of those guys around."
Cooper has kept Cote around throughout the Lightning’s training camp. The former Leafs ninth round pick has survived every round of cuts so far and is the only player left in camp who is not on an NHL contract.