Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos, Hedman headline Lightning players named to World Cup teams

OTTAWA — The World Cup of Hockey is going to have a strong Lightning presence.

Ten Tampa Bay players were named Wednesday to the preliminary 16-man rosters for the two-week, eight-team tournament in Toronto in September. That's the most of any NHL team. Coach Jon Cooper will also serve on the staff for the North America team, made up of players 23 and younger.

"It's going to be the best of the best, pretty much," said defenseman Victor Hedman, named to Sweden's team. "It's going to be a fun tournament, everyone watching us. It's a great way to start the season, I think."

Hedman, a surprise snub for Sweden's 2014 Olympic team, will be joined by Lightning Swedish defense partner Anton Stralman for the World Cup.

This will also be a big moment for captain Steven Stamkos, who has yet to compete in the Olympics; he wasn't picked in 2010 and was hurt in 2014. He, Hedman and Stralman are among the Lightning players who had been expected to be selected, including goalie Ben Bishop (United States) — who is having a Vezina Trophy-caliber season — center Valtteri Filppula (Finland), wing Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (Russia), and Ondrej Palat (Czech Republic).

Center Tyler Johnson wasn't among the first 16 chosen for the United States, but he likely will be among the final 23 players. Each team's remaining seven roster spots will be filled by early June.

The pleasant surprise selections were Vladislav Namestnikov (Russia) and defenseman Andrej Sustr (Czech Republic), who probably played their way onto the rosters with their strong performances this season.

"It's a testament to those kids, because I would say in training camp this year, I'm not so sure Vladdy would be on the radar, (Sustr) maybe," Cooper said. "But those guys found their ways, not only on (their teams), but the first 16 (players) on the team. …. In our (locker) room, guys were really happy for them."

Namestnikov, arguably the Lightning's most improved player, didn't know if he'd get the opportunity. But, he said, he, Kucherov and Vasilevskiy had dinner with Team Russia representatives a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh. Defenseman Nikita Nesterov could get added to the Russian team.

"Growing up, you're always watching the tournament, the World Cups, and internationally," Namestnikov said "To be named to the roster was cool."

Though the timing of the tournament isn't ideal, during training camp from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, it'll be well worth it for those playing.

"I don't think you can put a price tag on the competition level, the fitness level," Cooper said. "All those things will be at a peak when they start up in the fall. In situations like this, these are life events, to play for your country."

For the complete initial rosters, go to tampabay.com/lightning.

Comments
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Published: 06/22/18
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Published: 06/21/18