The Tampa Lightning are once again the odds on favorites to lift the Stanley Cup at the the end of the 2018-19 season.
The Lightning are putting the finishing touches on the pre-season as they get ready for the season opener against the Florida Panthers.
The Lightning did very little to upgrade the roster (not that they needed an overhaul) over the summer choosing instead to stay the course, not disrupt the roster and go into the 2018-19 season with the same core guys that have gotten them to three Eastern Conference Finals in the last four years.
Chris Kunitz was not re-signed and Ryan Callahan is rehabbing from shoulder surgery during the off-season and will not be ready to play until November.
Also the contract of Jake Dotchin was terminated leaving open the possibility of one of the young defensemen from Syracuse making the roster.
The Lightning have reduced the roster to 28, but must get to the 23 man limit early next week. There is a possibility that two forwards and one defensemen could make the team, or if the Lightning decide to go with just seven defensemen, then maybe three forwards could make the team.
As of right now Adam Erne, Matthieu Joseph, Alexander Volkov, and Danick Martel are the Forwards vying for 2 roster spots.
Erne was up with the Lightning a good bit last season and in 23 games Erne had 3G and 1A. He would be one of the guys that should get a roster spot. Then it comes down to Joseph, Volkov, and Martel for the final spot.
Joseph and Volkov have had good camps. Joseph has 3G and has played in all of the Lightning pre-season games. Volkov has two goals and has shown that he would be a good contributor to this Lightning team.
BriseBois picked Martel up off the waiver wire after he was cut loose by the Philadelphia Flyers. Martel had 25G and 15A in 59 games for the Flyers minor league affiliate last season.
Martel is very aggressive with the puck, has a nice scoring touch and uses his speed. The knock on Martel has been his size at 5-8, 161 and his strength.
The Lightning have had success with small players before. Think Marty St. Louis and Tyler Johnson. But Martel will need to get stronger to play consistently in the NHL.
The final forward spot will come down to Joseph or Volkov And I think Joseph has the edge. Joseph has a grit and physicality to his game that gives home the edge over Volkov. He also has a nice scoring touch With the potential to score 25-30 goals a season.
Although Joseph may make the team out of training camp, at some point Volkov, and Mitchell Stephens could all see time with the Lightning this season.
If the Lightning go with 8 defensemen Eric Cernak has the inside track for that final spot. Slater Koekkoek I believe has done enough this camp to earn a roster spot as well. So the Lightning will break camp with Hedman, Stralman, Girardi, McDonaugh, Coburn, Sergachev, Koekkoek, and possibly Cernak as the defensemen