Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Lightning wrap up preseason tonight in Atlanta
Posted Sep 27, 2009 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Sep 27, 2009 at 11:48 AM
What a long, strange trip this has been for the Lightning. After eight days and six games in five time zones, Tampa Bay will finally head home from Atlanta tonight after wrapping up the preseason. I know I speak for a lot of those involved in this trip when I say this week-long trip has felt more like a month. I can barely remember spending time in Regina, it seems so long ago.
But Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said he likes the way everybody has handled the trip, there has been few complaints and he feels everybody fighting for jobs got ample opportunities to prove themself on the ice. So when he was asked this morning how close tonight’s lineup is to what we will see on Saturday when the season opens up right back here in Atlanta, his response was: “This is as close as you can get, really. There are some things that might happen with waivers this week or what not, but this is as close as you can get.’‘
Here’s how the team will line up tonight:
Alex Tanguay-Vinny Lecavalier-Steve Downie
Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Marty St. Louis
James Wright-Jeff Halpern-Drew Miller
Todd Fedoruk-Zenon Konopka-Stephane Veilleux
Mattias Ohlund-Victor Hedman
Paul Ranger-Matt Walker
Andrej Meszaros-Kurtis Foster
Mike Smith to make the start in goal
So, if you are counting at home, here who is NOT playing tonight:
Forwards - Ryan Craig, Adam Hall, Brandon Bochenski and Brett McLean
Defense - Matt Lashoff, Matt Smaby, Mike Lundin, David Hale, Lukas Krajicek
Final rosters are due to the league on Wednesday, so there are still a couple of days to make decisions on some guys, but you would have to think that most of the decisions have been made. That means only one of the forwards not playing tonight will likely still be with the team on Wednesday while two of the five remaining defensemen will stick around as well.
And everybody who is out of tonight’s lineup would have to clear waivers if the team can’t find a trade partner to alleviate some of the one-way contracts. And you can expect that everybody who winds up on waivers will be placed on waivers Tuesday, which is 24 hours before the rosters have to be set. That way, perhaps the team can sneak a couple of guys through as other teams will also be in the same situation having to set their rosters at the same time, perhaps making it a bit more difficult for another team to try and put a claim in on a players.
General Manager Brian Lawton said on Saturday that some of the trade talk has picked up a little bit, and it’s no secret he would like to move Lukas Krajicek and his $1.475 million contract to another team since he obviously didn’t crack the top six, even though he has not had a bad training camp. If I were to venture a guess as to who the two defensemen who stay are, I would say Matt Smaby hangs around and perhaps Matt Lashoff. In my opinion, those are the two players who they would have to put through waivers that wouldn’t want to lose to another team. I don’t want to imply that David Hale or Mike Lundin are expendable, but the Smaby provides an element of toughness that outside of Matt Walker the team doesn’t have and Lashoff has too much of an upside to possibly lose him for nothing, plus even if they are able to sneak him to Norfolk on Tuesday, they could potentially lose him on re-entry waivers, which means he might be stuck down in Norfolk the whole season (although that might not be the worst thing in the world for his development especially since he is on a one-way deal next year.)
It will be an interesting next 48 hours to see what the Lightning do to finalize the roster since they are carrying 29, which is six over the maximum.