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Lightning 'deflated' when Jonathan Marchessault picked Panthers

Jonathan Marchessault, right, congratulates Colton Sceviour after Sceviour scored Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

AP photo

Jonathan Marchessault, right, congratulates Colton Sceviour after Sceviour scored Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.



When Jonathan Marchessault became an unrestricted free agent in July, the Lightning made a pitch to keep the forward.

In fact, Marchessault, 25, said Tampa Bay offered a similar two-year, one-way contract to what the Panthers did. 

"It wasn't about money," he said.

It was about a chance to play. And Marchessault saw more potential in the Panthers, signing a two-year, $1.5 million deal. Marchessault might have been right, entering Tuesday's game at Amalie Arena as Florida's leading scorer (four points), while playing on a top line with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.

“I knew I was on a team (in Tampa Bay) that was hard to break into the lineup," Marchessault said. "They have such a good team and (the forwards) have been playing three years together. That was a big part of changing teams so I have a better opportunity.’’

Marchessault had eight goals and 19 points in 47 games over two seasons with the Lightning. His shoot-first style and engaging personality made him a favorite in the Lightning room. But after making an impact as a callup last winter, Marchessault often became a healthy scratch down the stretch, including the playoffs. He spent most of the season living in a hotel with his wife Alexandra and two kids, 2 1/2-year-old James and 1-year-old Victoria. Now Marchessault has settled into a place in Boca Raton, the Panthers offering stability.

"When he signed with Florida we were a little dejected,"coach Jon Cooper said. "Not only that he left us but that he went to Florida; he could’ve gone anywhere else...He’s one of those undersized guys so they have to do something a little bit better than the other guys and he’s done that,’’ Cooper said. “Unfortunately, I won’t be cheering for him tonight, but I’ll cheer for him the other (78) games.’’

More from morning skate: Ben Bishop will start in net for the Lightning, James Reimer for Florida... Tampa Bay's lineup will be the same, meaning defenseman Slater Koekkoek will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. Cooper has said he doensn't like players sitting for lengthy periods, so would expect Koekkoek to make his season debut Thursday against Colorado...



[Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:58pm]


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