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Lightning signs F Ross Colton, 2016 4th-round pick, to two-way contract

Forward played last two years in college at Vermont, now can challenge for spot on Lightning roster in 2018-19.

On the day that prospects report to Brandon for Lightning developmental camp, Tampa Bay announced that it has signed its 2016 fourth-round pick, forward Ross Colton, to a two-year, two-way contract.

Colton, 21, played the last two seasons at the University of Vermont, leading the team this past year with 16 goals in 36 games after getting a team-best 12 as a freshman.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for me and my family," Colton told Vermont's official site.  "I loved my two years at UVM; playing at Gutterson in that environment will always be special to me.  Leaving my teammates is tough; they are lifelong friends and it won't be easy departing UVM.  However, I really believe this is the right time for me to start my quest to play in the NHL for the Tampa Bay Lightning.  UVM has prepared me to go after this, and I am ready for this challenge."

A two-way contract pays a player differently depending on whether he's in the NHL (drawing a full league-minimum salary while on roster) or down in the American Hockey League with the Lightning's affiliate there, the Syracuse Crunch, where the salary can be less than six figures.