Defenseman Paul Ranger, away from the team since October because of a personal matter, will not attend Lightning training camp, general manager Steve Yzerman said, and Ranger's agent Joe Resnick, confirmed.
"Generally, he's sorting out what he wants to do with his hockey career and with his life," Yzerman said. "At this time he's not prepared to commit to coming back to the NHL, and I respect his position."
Ranger's absence is a blow to the team, which believes his puck-moving skills fit nicely with coach Guy Boucher's puck-forward system. It also ended the organizational debate, for now, about perhaps carrying eight defensemen during the regular season.
"We're satisfied with the seven defensemen we have," Yzerman said. "Through our organization, we'll look through training camp and see how all the younger defensemen play and decide if we want to add anyone or are comfortable with what we have."
Yzerman said the door still is open for Ranger, 25, whose rights Tampa Bay retains but who must sign by Dec. 1 if he is to play this season: "I just said, 'If your thoughts change, just let me know and give me a call.' "
"Steve Yzerman," Resnick said, "has been a gentleman throughout this process."