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Carter Ashton auditioning for a roster spot

Posted Sep 18, 2009 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Sep 18, 2009 at 12:47 PM

While the Lightning are fielding a lineup of their top stars for tonight’s only home preseason game, their might be a good reason to focus on the play of one of their rising stars.

Right wing Carter Ashton, the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft will make his debut tonight playing alongside captain Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay. And should Ashton continue to display the progression he’s shown in training camp, the 19-year-old could find himself in the same position when Tampa Bay opens the season on Oct. 3.

“You can’t really plan ahead and think that here’s a 19-year-old kid who has to go back to junior right away because there is a possibility he could stay,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’s shown enough in training camp with his skills to warrant games and see how he does.”

Ashton, the son of former NHL Brent Ashton, said he didn’t enter training camp with any preconceived notions, he just wanted to come on and go about his business and not think about the possibilities of making an NHL roster.

“I can’t think like that, I just have to take it day-by-day,” Ashton said. “Nothing is for sure and there are a lot of guys competing for spots. So to have that thought or have that mind set wouldn’t do any good. I just have to come prepared and go day by day and be ready for what ever comes. If it happens, then deal with it then.”

As a player coming out of this year’s draft, Tampa Bay could sign Ashton to an entry level contract, but he would either have to play for the Lightning or return to his junior team, Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. Should he be signed, the team would have 10 games to decide whether to keep him on the roster. Should he be sent back to junior before that time, his contract would start next year, although he would receive a signing bonus.

WALKER WOUNDED: Matt Walker, signed to a three-year contract as a free agent, will be kept out of tonight’s game due to a lower body issue he described as minor. The 6-foot-2 defenseman said he should be ready to make his preseason debut next week.

“It’s good to go, I skated today so hopefully nothing will come up,” Walker said. “It’s just one of those small things that at this time of the year you want to take care of and make sure it doesn’t get any worse.”

GET BACK UP: Rookie G Dustin Tokarski, who is scheduled to make his debut playing the third period tonight, has a saying on the back of his mask that reads: “Get knocked down 8 times, get back up 9”

While most goaltenders tend to have a flag from their home country or initials of loved ones on the back part of the mask, Tokarski said he just likes the saying, a motto he has used for the past couple of years.

“I saw it one day and it just struck me,” he said. “I don’t think it had the eight and the nine in there, I kind of added those in because I was born in 1989, but I like the quote. It’s sort of how I play, get knocked down and get right back up. It’s kind of been my motto in my career.”

Tokarski, selected in the 2008 draft, has won a Memorial Cup with Spokane in 2008 and led Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior championship in January.

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