BRANDON — Brett Connolly earned the right to stay, at least for now.
That was the bottom line for the Lightning, which Tuesday reduced its roster to the maximum 23 players by sending Dana Tyrell to AHL Norfolk.
The move means Connolly, 19, who had a team-best three goals in the preseason and tied for the lead with five points, gets to prove he can play in the NHL.
It is basically a nine-game tryout. That is how many games the right wing can play before he must be sent back to juniors or the clock starts on his three-year, $2.7 million contract.
"It's exciting," said Connolly, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2010 draft. "It's every kid's dream to play in the NHL, but I still have to prove myself."
The innocent bystander is Tyrell, 22, who last season played 78 games for Tampa Bay, came to camp in the best shape of his career and whom general manager Steve Yzerman agreed did nothing to lose his spot.
He simply did not need waivers to be sent to the minors.
"I have no doubt that he's disappointed," Yzerman said. "But we want to see Brett Connolly. He's earned the right, and the things he does on the ice is a need that we have, so we want to see him play."
The Lightning has seven defensemen on its roster, not including Mattias Ohlund (knee), who is on injured reserve, and minor-league defenseman Scott Jackson, also on IR and who eventually will be sent to AHL Norfolk.
That means the team could keep 14 forwards with two goalies. Of the 15 remaining forwards on the roster, only Tyrell did not need waivers, which gave bubble players Mattias Ritola, Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt a break.
"It's definitely tough that it's (the business) as well as your play," Tyrell said. "It's definitely motivating. Everything that happens along your journey is just another thing that makes you want to prove yourself."
POSITIVE NEGATIVES: Monday's MRI exams showed no structural damage to Ohlund's knee or C Dominic Moore's back, coach Guy Boucher said.
Ohlund will miss at least Friday's opener at Carolina. Moore, who left the ice midway through Tuesday's practice (something Boucher said was planned), is expected to play.