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GM Yzerman explains Connolly, Drouin decisions

The Lightning on Sunday set its 23-player roster with two interesting cuts: sending forward Brett Connolly, who tied for the team's preseason lead with four goals, to AHL Syracuse, and Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, back to Halifax of the junior Quebec league.

GM Steve Yzerman explained his decisions to the Tampa Bay Times. …

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Lightning sets 2013-14 roster

The Lightning set its 23-player roster, keeping 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders.

The most interesting developments were sending left wing Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick of the dradft, back to Halifax of the junior Quebec league; sending forward Brett Connolly, who tied for the team preseason lead with four goals, to AHL Syracuse; and keeping defenseman Andrej Sustr.

The Syracuse line of center Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat also made it.

Here is the Lightning's opening night roster:

Goaltenders -- Ben Bishop, Anders Lindback.

Defensemen -- Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, Radko Gudas, Victor Hedman, Brian Lee (injured), Mattias Ohlund (injured), Sami Salo, Andrej Sustr.

Forwards -- B.J. Crombeen, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Ryan Malone, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson. …

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Angelidis, Taormina, Tyrell on waivers; toughest cuts to come

The Lightning on Sunday placed forwards Mike Angelidis and Dana Tyrell, and defenseman Matt Taormina on waivers, cutting the roster to 33. With defensemen Mattias Ohlund, Brian Lee and Dylan Blujus injured, that leaves 30 players.

The list of players on the bubble are goaltender Krisers Gudlevskis; forwards J.T.  Brown, Brett Connolly, Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Nikta Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik; and defenseman Dmitry Korobov, J.P. Cote and Andrej Sustr.

Gudlevskis is expected to be assigned to ECHL Florida. Cote is on an AHL contract and is expected to be with Syracuse.

Though nothing is official (and this doesn't take into account any trades or waiver wire claims that may occur), the thinking right now is the defense will be Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, Radko Gudas, Victor Hedman and Sami Salo.

Forwards right now are B.J. Crombeen, Valtteri Filppula, Alex Killorn, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Nate Thompson. …

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Time change: Damian Cristodero chat Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Damian Cristodero will be chatting Tuesday, from noon to 1 p.m.

Times files

Damian Cristodero will be chatting Tuesday, from noon to 1 p.m.

Please note that the time for Damian Cristodero's chat on Tuesday, Oct. 1, has been changed to 2 p.m.

What better way to get ready for the start of hockey season than by chatting with Times beat reporter Damian Cristodero? Want to talk about the Lightning's prospects in 2013-14? The arrival of Valtteri Filppula? The departure of Vinny Lecavalier? The promise of Jonathan Drouin? Bring your questions Tuesday, Oct. 1, from noon to 1 p.m. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Drouin back at wing on a line with Stamkos and St. Louis

After playing center for the first 12 days of training camp, Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick of the June draft, returned to his natural spot at left wing during a situational scrimmage at Germain Arena in Estero. That he was on a line with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis made it special.

“It was exciting to be on a line with those two guys,” Drouin said. “They make plays. They’re smart. It makes everything easier on the ice.”

Expect to see that line in Tuesday's preseason game at Nashville.

Experimenting with Drouin at center and shifting him back to wing is all part of the plan, coach Jon Cooper said.

“We wanted to take a look at Jonathan at center. Now we’ll take a look at him at wing,” he said. “There’s no guarantees where he’ll be in the lineup moving forward. But it was good to see him in the scrimmage. I thought he did well there.”

Stamkos seemed pumped by the chance to play with Drouin.

"It's something that's been talked about when he came here where he'll fit in," Stamkos said. "Any time you get to play with a skill player like that, you're excited to see what the chemistry is."

Drouin said center or wing is fine with him. …

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Here's who remains at Lightning camp

The Lightning has 36 players still in camp. Here is the list:

Goaltenders: Ben Bishop, Kristers Gudlevskis, Anders Lindback

Forwards: Mike Angelidis, J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, B.J. Crombeen, Jonathan Drouin, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Ryan Malone, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell.

Defensemen: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Dylan Blujus (injured, knee), Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, J.P. Cote, Radko Gudas, Victor Hedman, Dmitry Korobov, Brian Lee (injured, knee), Mattias Ohlund (injured, knee), Sami Salo, Andrej Sustr, Matt Taormina.

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Lightning reduces camp roster to 36 with 22 cuts

The Lightning on Saturday cut 18 players from training camp, leaving the roster at 40.

Cut were (with assignment):

Brady Brassart (Syracuse, AHL)

Cedrick Desjardins (Syracuse, AHL) -- cleared waivers

Danick Gauthier (Syracuse, AHL)

Riki Helenius (Syracuse, AHL) -- cleared waivers

Henri Ikonen (Kingston, OHL)

Slater Koekkoek (Windsor, OHL)

Charles Landry (Syracuse, AHL)

Max Langelier-Parent (Syracuse, AHL)

Dan Milan (Syracuse, AHL)

Joey Mormina (Syracuse, AHL)

Eric Neilson (Syracuse, AHL)

Nikita Nesterov (Syracuse, AHL)

Carl Nielsen (Syracuse, AHL)

Drew Olson (Syracuse, AHL)

Evan Rankin (Syracuse, AHL)

Tanner Richard (Syracuse, AHL)

Artem Sergeev (Syracuse, AHL)

Luke Witkowski (Syracuse, AHL)

Vlad Namestnikov (Syracuse, AHL)

Philippe Paradis (Syracuse, AHL)

Cedric Paquette (Syracuse, AHL)

Geoff Walker (Syracuse, AHL) -- must clear waivers


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'The puck's like a yo-yo on his stick,' coach Cooper says of Valtteri Filppula

So much has been made of what the Lightning's prospects have been doing during training camp -- Brett Connolly, for example, entered Saturday tied for the league lead with three goals -- the veterans have flown a bit under the radar.

Not so with Valtteri Filppula.

The most significant addition to Tampa Bay's roster -- who also has the added burden of the perception he was brought in to replace Vinny Lecavalier -- entered Saturday tied for the league lead with four assists, and has been so tough on the puck, coach Jon Cooper laughed when asked to evaluate.

"It's impressive," Cooper said after Friday night's 4-3 victory over the Blues in which Filppula had three assists and won 15 of 26  faceoffs in 21:54 of ice time.

"The puck's like a yo-yo on his stick. He just sticks it out there and pulls it in. He's got really strong balance and is strong on his skates. It's hard to take it off him. You put a couple of goal scorers on his line right there and a lot of good things can happen."

Filppula, 29, who signed a five-year, $25-million free-agent contract, said he is feeling better every day in his new surroundings. …

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Teddy Purcell out of lineup vs. Blues with an upper-body injury; Brett Connolly to play in his place

The Lightning tonight in St. Louis against the Blues will be without right wing Teddy Purcell, who has an upper-body injury, the team said.

Brett Connolly, who had two goals Thursday against the Predators and is making a strong push for a roster spot, will fill in.

Purcell played in Wednesday's preseason opener and also practiced Thursday. Coach Jon Cooper said Purcell showed up for Friday's practice and "wasn't feeling well, so we decided to get it checked out from the doc."

Cooper also said Connolly will play tonight against the Blues with center Valtteri Filppula and wing Alex Killorn. Cooper said not to read too much into it except, "We want to see if there is some chemistry."

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Baby on the way for Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis

AHL Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis knew he likely would have to leave Lightning training camp to be with wife, Lenna, when she delivered their first child. Well, that call finally came.

Angelidis will play tonight against the Blues in St. Louis and then fly home to Toronto on Saturday. Daughter, Sanatana, who is breech, will be delivered by C-section on Sunday.

"When we found out the baby was breech, that was a little tough to deal with," Angelidis said. "There's nothing you can do. It is what it is. We have to deal what we're given, so we move along and expect the arrival of a little girl. I can't wait. I'm pumped. I can't wait to meet her."

Angelidis said his stay in Toronto is open-ended as he expects Lenna will remain in the hospital two or three days. He is expected to start the season with the Crunch.

"We'll learn more as we go along," he said.

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Adam Erne suspended three games for Sobotka hit

Lightning prospect Adam Erne was suspended by the league for three preseason games for his head shot Wednesday on Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka.

Sobotka had to leave the game, but practiced Thursday and reports out of St. Louis said he is expected to play Saturday. Erne, 18, drafted No. 33 overall in June, was playing in his first NHL game.

The hit, for which Erne apologized and said was unintentional, came early in the game.

"I was facing one way and turned the other way and he was just kind of right there," Erne said after the game. "I wanted to hit him. I didn't think I was going to hit his head. It was a total accident. it wass my fault. I apologize."

But the league said Erne targeted Sobotka's head with his shoulder and made Sobotka's head the primary point of contact. Go here to see the league's explanation.

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Lineup for preseason opener vs. Blues in Orlando

Here is the lineup for the Lightning's preseason opener Wednesday against the Blues in Orlando:

Goaltenders -- Cedrick Desjardins, Kristers Gudlevskis

Defensemen -- Mark Barberio, Matt Carle, Radko Gudas, Slater Koekkoek, Dmitry Korobov, Nikita Nesterov.

Forwards -- Mike Angelidis, J.T. Brown, B.J. Crombeen, Valtteri Filppula, Henri Ikonen, Alex Killorn, Adam Erne, Cedric Paquette, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell

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Lightning signs draft choice Joel Vermin

Here is the announcement from the team:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Joel Vermin to a three-year, entry level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Vermin was selected by the Lightning in the seventh round, 186th overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey this past summer.

Vermin, 21, skated in 47 games last season with Bern (Swiss-A), recording 13 goals and 35 points to go along with 14 penalty minutes. Vermin skated in 19 playoff games, posting three goals and nine points for Bern. The Frauenkappelen, Switzerland native has appeared in 128 career games with Bern over the past four seasons, amassing 25 goals and 63 points to go along with 20 penalty minutes.

The 5-foot-11, 192-pound forward has represented Switzerland at the World Jr. Championships in both 2011 and 2012, posting four goals and six points in 12 career games in the tournament. Vermin led the Swiss team in 2012 for goals (four) and points (six) during the tournament.

Vermin will be assigned to play with Bern for the upcoming 2013-14 season.

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Connolly, Drouin shine in scrimmage as Blue beats White 1-0

Who knows what goes in to creating chemistry between players. Whatever it is, Brett Connolly and Jonathan Drouin seem to believe they have some.

Connolly scored for the second straight scrimmage in the Blue's 1-0 win over the White on Tuesday, and he was set up with a pinpoint, through-traffic pass from Drouin, a natural wing who seems to be enjoying the experiment of playing at center.

"He's a world-class player," Connolly said. "Nine times out of 10 he'll put (the puck) right on your stick. He's a treat to play with."

"He's a smart player," Drouin said of Connolly. "He sees the game well and he puts in his work down low and in his zone. I think he's a good all-around player."

Connolly's goal Tuesday was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

"I'm not sure what happened, honestly," Connolly said. "I got spun around. I got turned around and it was pretty much right on my stick."

"It's fun,"Drouin said. "Sometimes in these camps it's hard when you don't know the players you're playing with. But me and Cons are building a little chemistry. Obviously, it's working for us right now." …

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St. Louis' goal lifts White to a 2-1 scrimmage victory

The Lightning held its first scrimmage of training camp, a 40-minute, two-half affair with a running clock that ended with a 2-1 victory for the White over the Blue.

Marty St. Louis' goal at the end of a nifty two-on-one with Steven Stamkos broke a 1-1 tie. Brett Connolly also scored for the White in the second half with a re-direct of a pass/shot from rookie Jonathan Drouin. Both goals were scored on goaltender Riku Helenius.

Connolly also made a nice defensive play as the scrimmage ended. In perfect position in front of the net, he was able to clear a puck from just in front of the crease.

The Blue took a 1-0 first-half lead when Ondrej Palat drove to the net and sneaked the puck past goalie Anders Lindback.

"It was far from perfection but they worked really hard, so that was a good sign," coach Jon Cooper said.

Also good signs, Cooper said, was the gap the defense kept against the opponent's forwards and Connolly's goal. …

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