The case for who takes Ryan Callahan's spot
With just one exhibition remaining Saturday, the Lightning has a few more days to make a decision on one of its main camp questions.
Who temporarily takes Ryan Callahan's roster spot?
Callahan continues to practice in a red non-contact jersey, and is expected to be out until mid-November as he recovers from June hip surgery.
There are a few candidates in the running to replace Callahan to start the season.
*Cory Conacher - The former Lightning forward, re-signed in July, entered camp appearing to have the inside track, considering he's on a one-way deal. He'd have to clear waivers to get sent to AHL Syracuse. But Conacher hasn't had an overly impressive preseason. His best game was his last one in Nashville, when he scored a goal and looked to shoot. But Conacher's scoring ability, as he showed in Switzerland last season, and success under coach Jon Cooper could give him an edge.
*Joel Vermin - The wing impressed in his six-game callup last season, before a broken finger sidelined him. Vermin said he came to camp to make the team, and he just might. He's been strong at both ends of the ice, showing his ability to kill penalties, too. The Lightning likes his speed and skill. Tyler Johnson said Vermin reminds him of an Ondrej Palat type, 200-foot player. A pretty big compliment.
If Vermin doesn't make the team out of camp, he'll be one of the first called up from AHL Syracuse.
*Brayden Point - Point has been one of the bright spots of camp, earning a longer look from the Lightning. He had two goals in his first three preseason games, earning praise for his two-way game and hockey sense. Right now, he's playing on a line with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, seemingly a place holder for Nikita Kucherov, who remains in Russia for his contract holdout. If Point makes this team now, it'd have to be in that top-six role (for Kucherov). Hard to put a prospect in his first year of pro hockey on the third/fourth lines. Point could make the team, but likely replacing Kucherov, not Callahan.
All this competition has to be lightning a fire under veteran Erik Condra. Condra has two years left on his contract, but probably is battling for his jobs with the likes of Vermin, Conacher and Point pushing.