Lightning roster shuffle continues
The shuttle from AHL Syracuse to the Lightning continued on Thursday.
With Tampa Bay banged-up, potentially missing five regular forwards tonight against the Rangers, it called up center Mike Angelidis and defenseman Luke Witkowski from Syracuse. Defenseman Matt Taormina was returned to the Crunch.
Wing Joel Vermin had been recalled Wednesday night, and could make his NHL debut tonight. "It's a dream come true," Vermin said. "I couldn't believe it." But veteran wing Ryan Callahan (lower body) participated in today's morning skate and will be a game-time decision, coach Jon Cooper said.
Center Tyler Johnson (upper body) skated before the practice in a red non-contact jersey, but he's out tonight and probably questionable for Saturday. Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed), Cedric Paquette (upper body) are also out. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said Paquette is on injured reserve so he won't be able to return until after Saturday's game, but they're "encouraged" by his progress.
"Everyone is improving slowly," Yzerman said. "Taking it a day at a time."
With the call-ups, Witkowski, a right-shot defenseman, and Angelidis, the Crunch captain, make the Lightning harder to play against. And that's not a bad thing, considering the Lightning is one of three NHL teams without a fight this season.
Yzerman said they wanted a right-shot defenseman, the team only having two previously (Anton Stralman and Andrej Sustr). While Nikita Nesterov was expected to return, Yzerman said they want him to get regular minutes in Syracuse and not shuttle back and forth.
"Nesty has been in and out of our lineup," Yzerman said. "We want him to get in a little bit of a groove."
If Callahan can't play tonight, you'd think Angelidis gets a shot to play, as the Lightning would have to account for Callahan's penalty kill minutes. Tampa Bay could go seven defensemen with Witkowski in and either Callahan/Angelidis. We won't know until game-time.
"(Angelidis) is a good, hard-nosed checking centerman that can kill penalties," Yzerman said.
With the Crunch down to 10 forwards, they would need another one for Friday's game. Yzerman said if all these call-ups are needed in Tampa Bay, they'll stay here, but assistant GM Julien BriseBois will consider options after tonight's game.
There doesn't seem to be a timetable for a return for Johnson, Drouin and Paquette, meaning this shuttle from Syracuse is likely to continue.
Goalie Ben Bishop, though, will be starting in net.