TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher declared there are "spots open everywhere at all positions" as training camp opens today at the St. Pete Times Forum.
But that statement might be more nuanced than it seems.
From the outside looking in, the big-club roster almost is set. There might be competition for two spots among the bottom six wings — Johan Harju and Niklas Persson apparently have an edge, though coming from Europe, they are somewhat unknown quantities — but for the most part, the primary task for players will be catching the eye of coaches and management.
"This is a moment to leave an impression," Boucher said. "The impression they leave now, it will stick, and if it's a bad one, it will be more difficult to impress after. That's going to be part of the speech (today)."
Here comes the nuance:
"In this game there are trades, there's planning for during the year, there's planning for next year, the American league, the East Coast league. So, for me, there are spots open at every position."
That's not to say players penciled in for the Lightning cannot be challenged.
RW Adam Hall, who has a one-way contract and played last season for AHL Norfolk, wants back in the show, as does Eric Perrin, a former Lightning center who played last season in Russia and is in on a tryout.
"There's nothing that's set in stone for me," Boucher said. "We want players who are accountable. If we feel we don't have that, we're the type of people who will act. I'm not saying we will necessarily make trades, but we're not going to wait for guys to wake up. We're going to make them wake up and make sure guys do what they're supposed to do.
"That means the guys who are challenging them give themselves a much better chance, whether it's in the short run or the long run."
STAMKOS RETURNS: C Steven Stamkos skated at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon after a two-day, NHL-sponsored media event in New York that included a concert at Yankee Stadium with Jay-Z and Eminem.
"That was fun," Stamkos said, adding about the media event, "It was really productive. Now I'm ready to focus on hockey."
ROSTER CHANGES: D Brock Beukeboom and D Teigan Zahn, both June draftees, will not attend camp.
Zahn's agent Craig Oster said it was determined his client is better off with his junior team in Saskatoon, which begins its regular season Sept. 24, the same day as Beukeboom's Sault Ste. Marie junior team.
Tampa Bay will have 52 players in camp: 32 forwards, 15 defensemen and five goaltenders.