2 rookies on defense
The Lightning finally settled on a roster Monday. It won't be 20 players, as coach John Tortorella wanted, or 21 to accommodate for the training camp inconsistency on the blue line. Nope, Tampa Bay will carry 22 players. It will keep rookie Matt Smaby, giving the team seven defensemen, and it also is keeping Mathieu Darche after left wing Andreas Karlsson strained his abdomen during practice.
So here is the team: Forwards -- Mathieu Darche, Chris Gratton, Jan Hlavac, Andreas Karlsson, Vinny Lecavalier, Craig MacDonald, Michel Ouellet, Vinny Prospal, Brad Richards, Andre Roy, Marty St. Louis, Nick Tarnasky, Jason Ward. Defense -- Doug Janik, Filip Kuba, Brad Lukowich, Mike Lundin, Shane O'Brien, Paul Ranger, Matt Smaby. Goalies -- Marc Denis, Johan Holmqvist.
Non-roster injured: Tim Taylor.
Injured reserve (not on yet but expected to be assigned): Dan Boyle, Ryan Craig.
The two-rookie thing on defense is most interesting. Apparently, the Lightning believes that both Lundin and Smaby have passed Janik as it pertains to on-ice development. But the team also does not want to lose Janik which it believes it would if it tried to get him through waivers and down to AHL Norfolk. We'll see how the three play and see what happens when Dan Boyle gets healthy.
The guess is that Janik and Lundin make up the fifth and sixth defensive spots. But as for playing two rookies, Tortorella said, "If they deserve to be there, they will be there. It's an interesting dynamic to have two guys come in who haven't see NHL hockey at all and trust them in those spots. But I think with our schedule we can spot them. It's not written in stone we have to go three pairs and play all six all the time during games. I think we can still try to give them a chance to be successful.''