Marc Pouliot and Niklas Persson on waivers as competition for final spots heats up
The Tampa Bay Lightning put forwards Marc Pouliot and Niklas Persson on waivers. Persson previously was cut from the preseason roster.
If both clear by noon Thursday, they will be assigned to AHL Norfolk. Persson, though, has a contract option that allows him to return to Europe, something the team said he is considering.
A move with Pouliot will reduce the roster to 27, and as the final two preseason games loom this weekend, the battle for final roster spots should be interesting.
As mentioned yesterday, much of what happens will be determined by how many defensemen the team keeps. If it is eight defensemen, as coach Guy Boucher wants (because he likes to sometimes play seven, and because of the propensity, he said, of defensemen to get injured), the Lightning could keep at most 13 forwards on the 23-player roster. If the team goes with seven defensemen, it can keep as many as 14 forwards.
The guess here is the team goes with eight defensemen for the above reasons. With nine defensemen on the roster. With six spots seemingly secure -- Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, Brett Clark, Randy Jones and Mike Lundin -- the last two spots are available to Matt Smaby, Mike Vernace and Mathieu Roy.
Eleven forward spots seem secure -- centers Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier, Dominic Moore and Nate Thompson; left wings Simon Gagne, Ryan Malone and Sean Bergenheim; and right wings Marty St. Louis, Steve Downie, Teddy Purcell and Adam Hall. If the team goes with 13 forwards, the final two spots are between Eric Perrin, Dana Tyrell and Johan Harju. If it goes with 14, all three could be safe.
Coach Guy Boucher said not to assume just because he is younger and might get more minutes at Norfolk that Tyrell would be the one to go.
"We want to make the right decision for the person," Boucher said. "If we feel a guy like Tyrell is going to be better in his role here because if he goes down and he gets a different role, it doesn't necessarily help us, so he might be better off here."
Boucher expanded the point talking about James Wright, who was cut and sent to Norfolk.
"He could have been with us," Boucher said. "But we don't want him to be just a grinding guy. With Wright, we think there's more to his game in terms of skill and power play He wouldn't be getting any of that here. You give him some ice time but that's not enough in his case."
Other tidbits from Wednesday practice: Forward Chris Durno is still with the team, but he has cleared waivers and is expected to be sent to Norfolk. ... Goalie Mike Smith for the second straight day practiced and took shots, will play Friday's preseason game at Florida, and might play at least a half of Saturday's preseason finale against the Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum. Smith fractured the tip of his right ring finger during a Sept. 20 practice when he was hit by a Steven Stamkos shot. ... Injuries keep popping up. The latest is to goalie Cedrick Desjardins, who said he has general soreness in the groin and abdominal areas. Desjardins said he knew he was not 100 percent before Saturday's game against the Flames, but did not tell the coaches because he wanted to play. "I've worked too hard to get a chance like this," he said. ... Boucher said Jones (finger) will not play this weekend, and that Ohlund, who missed the past two days of practice with an undisclosed problem, is expected to skate on Thursday. ... Boucher said he was pleased Chicago's Nick Boynton apologized for the throat slash gesture he made at Lightning center Blair Jones after their Sept. 22 fight. "It's a mature reaction on his part." ...