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Lightning lineup vs. Predators; Vasilevskiy makes debut

If you're going to the Lightning's first exhibition game Tuesday against the Predators at Amalie Arena, you won't see too many of the veteran front-line players.

Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Ben Bishop, along with Calder Trophy finalists Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

But Tampa Bay will show off some of its young talent, a priority in the first week before AHL camp starts next week. 

Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula and Brett Connolly will be the top line, headlining the roster. The other forward groups will be Erne-Richard-Vermin/Panik, Namestnikov, Kucherov/Paquette, Angelidis, Marchessault.

On defense, Jason Garrison will make his Lightning debut, having been acquired in June from the Canucks. He will be paired with Andrej Sustr. The other defensive pairings will be Carle-Witkowski/ Barberio, Dotchin.

Vasilevskiy, the touted goalie prospect, will start and likely play most, if not all the game. Kristers Gudlevskis will back him up. …

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Drouin could miss first part of preseason

Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, is expected to make the team, so this is a big camp for him.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, is expected to make the team, so this is a big camp for him.

While the Lightning haven't considered Jonathan Drouin's upper-body injury serious, it looks like the touted wing prospect could miss the rest of the week.

Drouin, 19 who hasn't practiced the past three days, skated on his own before today's workout. But coach Jon Cooper said Drouin was going to see doctors later today, and it's possible he could be out for the first part of the preseason.

The Lightning host its first exhibition Tuesday, then play Thursday in Nashville and Friday at home against Dallas.

"You'll have a much clearer indication, as will we, to find out where he's at," Cooper said. "Because I don't know if he saw much progress. We'll find out when he sees the doc."

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, is expected to make the team, so this is a big camp for him. But Cooper doesn't appeared overly concerned at this point.

"What's bothering him, once it gets better, it won't bother him again," Cooper said. "It shouldn't be a long-term lingering thing." …

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Highlights from Sunday's scrimmage; Stamkos sits

Steven Stamkos is healthy, but Sunday was a planned off-day as the Lightning manage the schedule of the star center, who has a surgically-repaired right leg.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steven Stamkos is healthy, but Sunday was a planned off-day as the Lightning manage the schedule of the star center, who has a surgically-repaired right leg.

The Lightning had its first full scrimmage of training camp Sunday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, with many fans coming out to take advantage of one of the few open practices.

Two of the top attention-getters, captain Steven Stamkos and RW Jonathan Drouin did not participate. Drouin was held out for the second straight day due to a minor upper-body injury, and though he skated on his own before practice, will likely not play in the scrimmage Monday at Amalie Arena.

Stamkos is healthy, but Sunday was a planned off-day as the Lightning manage the schedule of the star center, who has a surgically-repaired right leg. Coach Jon Cooper said they're still sorting out whether Stamkos will play in Monday's scrimmage or participate in Saturday's Fan Fest scrimmage, with the main goal him being ready for opening night.

"We need him in October," Cooper said. "We don't necessarily need him now." …

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Stamkos says leadership is by committee

Steven Stamkos is the Lightning captain, the face of the franchise and one of the top players in the league.

And, believe it or not, Stamkos, at age 24, is the longest-tenured Tampa Bay player, having been here since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2008.

But when it comes to leadership, Stamkos said he has plenty of help, with three former captains on the roster; Eric Brewer (Blues), Brenden Morrow (Stars) and Ryan Callahan (Rangers). While Stamkos carries himself like a captain, and is always available at his locker after wins or losses, he likes having the other veterans chip in.

"It's reassuring," Stamkos said. "I've been around the league for a while now, but I'm still young. It's a weird feeling, but it's nice to have those guys there that you can count on. From the beginning, it was never a one-man kind of thing. It's always been that way, and especially with those guys even more so that collective leadership. It makes it easier that way, different guys can step up. It doesn't fall on one or two or three guys. We have a lot of guys who can step up and say things and guys will listen." …

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Drouin to miss Sunday's scrimmage due to upper-body injury

Those fans expecting to see touted RW prospect Jonathan Drouin at today’s open practice and scrimmage in Brandon will be disappointed.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was held out of Saturday’s practice due to an upper-body injury. His status is day-to-day, and though he may not participate in scrimmages the next two days, coach Jon Cooper said Drouin, 19, should return sometime this week and be able to play in an exhibition game.

“This is not a long-term thing,” Cooper said. “By no means is this serious. He’ll for sure be back (this) week at some point.”

Cooper said Drouin got “nicked up a little bit” in a “freak” injury suffered sometime since starting rookie camp Sept. 11. While this is a big camp for Drouin, who is expected to have every opportunity to make the team, since the injury occurred so early and is so minor, it won’t hold him back, Cooper said.

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Picking Stamkos' linemates won't be an "open audition"

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said players were told not to read too much into what groups they practiced with - or lines they were on - during training camp.

But the fact Stamkos centered a line with Ondrej Palat and veteran Ryan Callahan during Friday's first practice wasn't a random selection. The trio played together a little bit last season, and coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos will be paired with several familiar faces during camp before deciding the top line.

"I don't think it's an open audition," Cooper said. "We've got a group that has some success with him last year, and why wouldn't we go back to that again? At least at the start of the year."

After Marty St. Louis was traded last season, and Stamkos returned from his right leg surgery, he played primarily with Palat and C Tyler Johnson, the two Calder Trophy finalists, including in the playoffs. But Stamkos also saw time with C Alex Killorn.

Stamkos said game situations will give him a better feel, but know what he likes in linemates. …

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Cooper: There's "no rush" with Jonathan Drouin

Lightning coach Jon Cooper can see a pronounced difference in touted  prospect RW Jonathan Drouin from the beginning of last year’s camp to now.

“He’s leaner, he’s quicker, he’s faster, he seems more mature out on the ice,” Cooper said.

While Drouin, 19, is likely to make the team - as opposed to getting sent back to juniors - Cooper tried to temper the expectations on the third overall pick from 2013.

"He's an investment for us," Cooper said. "This isn't just, 'Well, he was a high draft pick, let's throw  him into the lineup and he's going to come in here and be our MVP.' That's not how he should be looked at by everybody. He's a 19-year old junior hockey player that's trying to work his way into the National Hockey League. We want him to not only perform this year, but 10-15 years down the road. For me, there's no rush on Jonathan Drouin. Let's see where he fits in, if he makes the team. We're very confident in his abilities." …

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Bishop says he won't be held back in camp

Ben Bishop doesn't expect to be limited during camp.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ben Bishop doesn't expect to be limited during camp.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was pretty happy with how he performed in throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Wednesday's Rays-Yankees game.

"I don't know if my velocity was up to speed," he joked. "But my location was pretty good."

More importantly, Bishop is feeling good physically heading into Friday's first full practice at Amalie Arena. Bishop, who underwent right wrist surgery in April, said he's not quite 100-percent yet, but he's "getting there" and doesn't expect to be limited during camp.

"The range of motion, everything is good," Bishop said. "Strength still needs to get a little stronger, but I'm able to practice with the guys, that's good. By the season starts, hopefully it'll be closer to 100-percent. I don't know if it'll ever be close to 100-percent, but it's getting better everyday. So hopefully in a couple weeks here it'll be ready to go."

Bishop has been using a small pad inside his blocker to help with the wrist, but plans to phase that out. He said Friday, the first full practice, should be a good test to see how it responds.

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Stamkos: Season will be 'tougher' this year

Lightning center Steven Stamkos is reflected in a mirror as he works on front squats during testing and physicals on the first day of training camp Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning center Steven Stamkos is reflected in a mirror as he works on front squats during testing and physicals on the first day of training camp Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos went through an array of testing and photo shoots before getting surrounded by cameras at Thursday's opening of camp.

"Summer is over," he said, smiling. "It starts tomorrow."

Stamkos realizes there's high expectations surrounding Tampa Bay, considering its surprising run to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Many in the media are predicting them to make a deep playoff run, but Stamkos points out the danger in getting too ahead of themselves.

It took Tampa Bay three seasons to get back to the playoffs after making it to the 2010-11 Eastern Conference Final. …

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Lightning announce training camp schedule

The Lightning announced its training camp schedule Wednesday night, with three open practices on tap.

Tampa Bay opens camp Thursday at Amalie Arena, where there will be physicals and testing. The first full practice is Friday at Amalie Arena.

The Lightning will move to the Ice Forum in Brandon for an open practice Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. and including a scrimmage from 11:15 a.m,-12. The other open practices are on Sept. 27 Fan Fest (scrimmage) and Oct. 1 in Estero.

The current camp schedule is below and is subject to change.

Friday, September 19 at Amalie Arena
Group 1     8:40 am – 9:00 am Goalies on Ice
9:00 am – 10:15 am Practice
Group 2     10:30 am – 10:45 am Goalies on Ice
10:45 am – 11:30 am Practice
11:45 am – 12:30 pm Practice
Group 3     1:25 pm – 1:45 pm Goalies on Ice
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm Practice
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm Practice

Saturday, September 20 at Amalie Arena
Group 1     8:40 am – 9:00 am Goalies on Ice
9:00 am – 10:15 am Practice
Group 2     10:30 am – 10:45 am Goalies on Ice
10:45 am – 11:30 am Practice
11:45 am – 12:30 pm Practice
Group 3     1:25 pm – 1:45 pm Goalies on Ice
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm Practice
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm Practice …

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Lightning set training camp roster

The Lightning opens its training camp Thursday at Amalie Arena, starting with physicals and testing. The first day on the ice will be Friday.

Most of the team has been working out together in informal skates in Brandon and Amalie Arena in recent weeks.

The team announced its roster, and there aren't many surprises. The only new addition is goalie Peter Mannino, the former University of Denver product who played in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.

The team's practices aren't open to the public, other than Fan Fest on Sept. 27 at Amalie Arena.

Here's the full camp roster, from the team: …

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Lightning lose 6-3 to Panthers in prospect tournament

The Lightning lost 6-3 to the Panthers Tuesday in the finale of the prospect tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

Rookie forward Michael Aviani, a camp invitee, scored his second goal of the three-game tourney. Defenseman Slater Koekkoek and Cameron Maclise also had goals for Tampa Bay, with forward Adam Erne seeing his first game action since offseason wrist surgery.

"It’s been a while since I have played a game, so I definitely had to get my legs underneath me, Erne said. "It felt good after a little bit. It was a tough game but Florida is a good team and we just didn’t
execute."

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 36 of 41 shots. The Lightning finished 1-1-1 in the tournament, outshot 42-27 Tuesday. The Lightning gave up four straight goals to break a 1-1 tie.

"We were talking in the dressing room about wanting to keep the momentum from the first two games but it seemed like Florida came and took it from the start and definitely finished it," Aviani said.

The Lightning prospects will have Wednesday off before resuming skating Thursday, when training camp opens at Amalie Arena.

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Video: Steven Stamkos converts from 91 yards

Steven Stamkos

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Steven Stamkos

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has scored many goals with his rocket one-timer. And in a promotional clip for Bauer, Stamkos' slap shot was put to an interesting test, challenging him to shoot a puck off a plastic mat through the uprights from several distances on a football field. How far was his longest "field goal?" Check it out.

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Lightning beat Bruins 3-2 in overtime of prospect tournament

Defenseman Kodie Curran is definitely not one of the more high-profile prospects for the Lightning in this weekend's tournament in Nashville.

But Curran, 24, an invitee to camp, came up big Sunday night, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Bruins 3-2 in the second game of the prospects tournament.

“It was definitely one of the cooler experiences of my life,” said Curran, who spent the last four seasons at the University of Calgary. "It was fast-paced though, definitely a step quicker than college hockey, and being fortunate to be playing with such good players. I got a great pass from (Jonathan) Drouin there and I was able to capitalize."

Forwards Jonathan Drouin and Brayden Point each picked up the assist on the game-winner. Nikita Nesterov and Michael Aviani also scored for Tampa Bay, with goalie Kristers Gudlevskis stopping 23 of 25 shots.

But Curran was the unsung star for the Lightning, which lost to the Predators in overtime Saturday and will wrap up the three-game tournament Tuesday against the Panthers. …

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Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone signs with Rangers

Former Lightning wing Ryan Malone got the second chance he was looking for Thursday, signing a one-year, two-way deal with the Rangers. His NHL salary is $700,000, his AHL salary $100,000.

"I am willing to do whatever it takes," Malone said. "This is a great team."

Malone, 34, was bought out by Tampa Bay in June, his season effectively ending after his April arrest in Tampa on charges of DUI and cocaine possession. He pleaded no contest to the DUI charge last month and will enter a pretrial diversion program to settle the drug charge.

Malone joined informal workouts with the Rangers on Monday, publicly aplogizing to the Lightning organization and hoping to get another chance. The two-way deal gives the Rangers roster flexibility, and Malone seemed comfortable with a New York club that includes several forrmer teammates.

"I am looking for an opportunity to show the kind of person I am both on and off the ice," Malone told reporters in New York Monday. I am healthy and in good shape; and everything off ice is going well. I learned from my mistake off the ice and now just want to be part of something special."

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