Why the Lightning cut James Wisniewski
Defenseman James Wisniewski was the biggest name of the Lightning's 24 cuts Sunday, the veteran released from his training camp tryout after playing in three exhibitions.
The Lightning saw some positives in Wisniewski, 32, from his his vision and passing, which is why it was intrigued he could be an option for its powerplay. But with Wisniewski having missed all of last season with a torn ACL (his fourth torn ACL of his career), his skating was an issue. Coach Jon Cooper said Wisniewski was cut loose early so he could try to latch on with another team.
"He's a good pro, and you can tell the way he thinks the game and the skills he possesses, is why he's been a good pro in this league," Cooper said. "For him, he's had some major injuries to both of his knees, and he slowed down a little bit. And we weren't unfortunately in a situation where we could wait."
Wisniewski has said he had some struggles adjusting to the Lightning's style, which allows defensemen the freedom to jump aggressively into the rush. "For me it's harder," Wisniewski said Saturday. " A couple times I've done something and I'm like, 'Oh, that's my fault.' And they say, 'No, it's a great job; it's the forward's (responsibility).' Just never played that way before. But it takes some getting used to."
There just wasn't enough time.
"You're rusty to begin with, and secondly, you're not familiar with the system," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "His reads sometimes are just … it's based on rust and indecision on how we like to play. But for the most part, his positional play is good. He's where he's supposed to be. You've got to keep in the back of your mind he's missed a lot of time (and) he's coming off a very serious injury. You just have to be a little bit patient there."
The Lightning would have also had to make room, both financially and roster-spot wise, for Wisniewski. There's defensemen Nikita Nesterov and Slater Koekkoek battling for that sixth and seventh defensemen spot (Luke Witkowski is also still in camp). Tampa Bay can use Nesterov more on the power play, like it did Saturday, when he had a goal and five shots.
Tampa Bay is in a salary cap crunch, with just $5-$5.5 million left and wing Nikita Kucherov still unsigned.