Whether D Mike Lundin has a contract or not, agent Ben Hankinson expects his client to accept the Lightning's invitation to be at training camp Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum. It is an interesting way to find out where one stands, but GM Brian Lawton said it makes sense.
"People want to find their worth. They want to find out what's happening," Lawton said Tuesday while watching rookie camp at the Ice Sports Forum. "I'm hoping we agree to a contract. We have a multitude of offers for him to evaluate."
Lundin, 24, played 51 games for AHL Norfolk last season (with four goals, 29 points) after playing 25 with Tampa Bay. Hankinson has said Lundin, with 106 NHL games the past two seasons and who is the team's last unsigned free agent, feels further buried on the depth chart by the team's blue line upgrades. Lundin also doesn't want a two-way deal, something on which the Lightning insists.
Hankinson has asked Lawton to try to work a trade.
"I'm not looking to get rid of him," Lawton said. "We like him. We think he's a good player. We think he'd add a lot of depth to what we have and compete."
As a better player, Lawton said: "In my opinion, he's moved forward, and that progress came from being (in Norfolk) and playing significant minutes. That was better for him than being here with all the problems we had and not playing a lot. ... He's got a better foundation."
SMITTY'S BACK: G Mike Smith said he is "100 percent" over his post-concussion issues that cost him more than two months last season. But he did have a bone to pick with a story last month, first relayed by Lawton, that he was hit in the mask by a wrist shot from a 14-year-old during one of his first skates in Toronto. "He was in the (OHL), so he was 19," Smith said of the shooter and added, "I felt bad the 14-year-olds were picking on me."
RANGER, MESZAROS ON ICE: Defensemen Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros, rehabbing from identical offseason labrum surgeries to their left shoulders, are cleared for contact. Ranger did not talk about the injury other than to say it is improving. Meszaros admitted, "It's still a little sore. I just have to get through the pain and get used to it."
PROSPAL ON TORTS: For those who recall the 2008 incident in which Vinny Prospal called out coach John Tortorella during a postgame interview shown on the Times Forum scoreboard, their reunion as members of the Rangers might seem strange.
"The thing is, the relationship with Torts that I have is way beyond coach and a player," said Prospal, skating with his former teammates before leaving for training camp in New York.
"People don't realize it had nothing to do with the relationship between us. That was about hockey. For some reason, Torts has some kind of power or vision of how to make me play better, and it works."
ODDS AND ENDS: Lawton said he expects to make two trades before the roster is set. Expect draft choices and prospects to be the priority as the team manages payroll. ... Lawton said he will name Norfolk's assistant by Tuesday. He said he has three candidates, though he mentioned only former NHLer Jim Johnson. ... Lawton also said Leigh Mendelson agreed to terms as Norfolk's strength coach and video coach.
Damian Cristodero can be reachedat email@example.com