Tampa Bay Lightning keeps Brett Connolly (for now) on final roster, sends Dana Tyrell to minors

4

October

The Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday reduced its roster to the maximum 23 players, deciding to keep junior-eligible right wing Brett Connolly and sending wing Dana Tyrell to the minors.

"It's exciting," said Connolly, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2010 draft. "It's every kid's dream to play in the NHL. I still have to prove myself in my first nine games."

Connolly can play in nine games before the team must decide whether to send him back to juniors. If he sticks with the team and plays a 10th game, the clock starts on his three-year, $2.7 million contract.

Sending Tyrell, who played 78 games with the team last season, to AHL Norfolk was really the only decision the Lightning could make. Consider that with defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee) and minor-league defenseman Scott Jackson (knee) on IR, the team has seven blue-liners on the roster. That means it could keep up to 14 forwards with two goalies. Among the 15 remaining forwards only Tyrell did not require waivers. The Lightning also wants to get a further look at players such as Mattias Ritola, Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt, and especially Connolly, who had a team-best three goals in preseason and tied for the team lead with five points.

"I have no doubt that he’s disappointed," GM Steve Yzerman said of Tyrell. "I’m sure he’s not happy with it. But right now, and I explained to Dana our logic, is we want to see Brett Connolly. He’s earned the right and the things he does on the ice is a need that we have, so we want to see if he can play."

Connolly, during Tuesday practice, played on a line with center Dominic Moore and Ryan Shannon.

Here is the Lightning's opening-day roster:

Goaltenders -- Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon

Defensemen -- Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman, Pavel Kubina, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Matt Gilroy, Brett Clark, Bruno Gervais

Forwards-- Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier, Dominic Moore, Nate Thompson, Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Brett Connolly, Mattias Ritola, Blair Jones, Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie, Adam Hall, Ryan Shannon, Tom Pyatt

Injured reserve -- Mattias Ohlund, Scott Jackson

(Jackson eventually will be sent to AHL Norfolk.)

[Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 12:15am]

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