Is Stephane Veilleux next up in the Lightning's search for Vinny Lecavalier's right wing?
First it was Steve Downie during a training camp scrimmage, then it was first-round draft pick Carter Ashton for, oh, half a game or so Friday night. It was Stephane Veilleux for the other half. The "revolving door," as Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet called it, continues, as does the search for a right wing to play on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay.
Tocchet said he didn't take Ashton off Lecavalier's line on Friday, and put him with center Paul Szczechura and Blair Jones, because he did anything wrong. Tocchet said he just wanted to see Veilleux in that spot anyway. And you know what? Veilleux did a pretty good job. In fact, Lecavalier's line looked the best it did all camp with Veilleux providing hustle and work against the wall. And after all, isn't that what the Lightning wants from that position?
There is no need for another offensive mind-set on that line. Lecavalier and Tanguay will provide enough of that. What is needed there is someone who can go get the puck, who can skate with the other two and who will get to the net. That, really, is Veilleux, whp spen the past six seasons learning that style with the Wild under Jacques Lemaire.
It is interesting it took the Lightning so long in the audition process to get to Veilleux. In an interview early in training camp, he said he turned down a two-year deal with the Sharks so he could come to Tampa Bay with a one-year deal and play with someone like Lecavalier. He said he wanted to move his career to the next level, and getting a chance to play on a top line was a way to do it.
In other words, Veilleux sounded as if he had some idea he would get a chance to play on that line.
Whatever, with the way Veilleux played on Friday, he seems likely to get another chance with Lecavalier and Tanguay. For his part, Lecavalier has said he just wants to be able to play consistently with two partners. "I'm with Vinny," Tocchet said.
It was interesting, though, that it was Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis who combined for the winning goal on Friday with 25.1 seconds left in overtime. St. Louis anticipated the play perfectly, stole the puck and sent it to Lecavalier, who made a nifty pass back to St. Louis on a two-on-none breakout, and St. Louis scored.
Tocchet has said St. Louis will get some time with Lecavalier during the season (Tocchet likes to call St. Louis a "floater"), and as much as some would like to see the pair reunited for the longer term, it would be difficult to break up the line of St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone.
Then again, you never know until the "revolving door" stops.