TAMPA — When the Lightning picked wing Alex Volkov in the second round of the June draft, some wondered why so soon.
But after the first few weeks of training camp, Volkov, 20, has others wondering how soon the 6-foot-1 forward might reach the NHL.
Volkov continued his impressive preseason Sunday, racking up two goals in the Lightning's 4-2 loss to the Panthers at Amalie Arena. Both scores involved driving to the net. The first came on a slick wraparound; on the second, Volkov darted to the crease and batted an Alex Killorn pass out of the air.
"In the end, that's what's drawn him to us," coach Jon Cooper said. "Like, 'Wow, that's a good trait to have,' because that's the kind of trait you don't teach. You can tell guys all you want, 'Go to the net, go to the net.' Lots of guys don't do it. And he's coming here a couple days and doing that."
Volkov, entering his first year as a pro, is likely to start in AHL Syracuse. Having played in his native Russia on larger ice surfaces, he said he's trying to show he can play on the smaller surfaces in North America. And RW Nikita Kucherov believes Volkov isn't far away from the NHL.
"He's got a good shot, smart, big size. I like him a lot," Kucherov said. "I don't know where he's going to end up, but I think he's got a lot of chance to get (to the NHL), really soon. The first month, maybe.
"I like the players when they just work, do their job, don't talk much, but I really like him. I really wanted him on the team because I see potential in him. Really skilled and really responsible with the puck. Every time you see him, he's got the puck on his stick."
Dotchin violates rule
D Jake Dotchin violated an unspecified team rule, which is why he has yet to play in the preseason. The team said it won't affect his spot on the roster. It's unclear if he'll appear in the remaining three exhibition games.
Sergachev's learning curve
D Mikhail Sergachev logged at least 20 minutes in his third straight exhibition game and was minus-1 in a career-high 23:46. A key aspect Tampa Bay hopes to see from Sergachev, 19, is sound decision-making, not forcing plays. Sergachev said he's learning how not to do too much, an adjustment coming from juniors. "Sometimes, you've just got to flip (the puck) out of the zone, play it simple, rim the puck," he said. "In juniors with Windsor, I didn't get used to that. I played my game. I made plays every time. It was different."
Nuts and bolts
Steven Stamkos said his surgically repaired right knee held up well after Friday's game vs. the Predators, his first in 10 months. … C Matt Peca played his fourth straight game. Coach Jon Cooper said he is having his best camp "by far." … D Dan Girardi had three hits and three blocked shots in his team debut. … G Peter Budaj stopped 24 of 27 shots in 58:23. … Lightning alumni beat the U.S. women's team 6-1 in an exhibition after the game.