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Five things to know about Lightning rookie camp

Tampa Bay’s prospects start with camp in Brandon and then head to the NHL Prospect Showcase
Forward Alex Barre-Boulet led AHL rookies in scoring last season. [SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Forward Alex Barre-Boulet led AHL rookies in scoring last season. [SHADD, DIRK | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 5, 2019
Updated Sep. 6, 2019

BRANDON — Hockey has returned. The Lightning prospects took the ice on the first day of rookie camp Thursday, a sign the season is near.

Players will skate again at 10:45 a.m. Friday before heading to Tennessee for a tournament.

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Here are five things to know about rookie camp.

What’s the difference between rookie camp and development camp?

The roster of 23 players at rookie camp is similar to the roster of 29 players for June’s development camp. But the camps have different purposes.

“Development camp is more to give them tools and resources to get better,” assistant general manager and director of player development Stacy Roest said. “Now it’s evaluation.”

At rookie camp, the coaches and management get to see how players are using those tools and who has done what since development camp. They’ll come up with a rough ranking of players through the organization over the next couple of weeks.

What happened Thursday?

Rookie camp opened with physicals and fitness testing. The on-ice session was tertiary.

Among other things, players had their body-fat composition measured and new fitness baselines established.

“(Thursday) was a big day for them,” Roest said. “Fitness testing and getting settled in shows the progression you made over the summer. That’s why we like to skate the first day and get the nerves out.”

The question of how eating a pizza affects body fat from one day to the next came up afterward.

Who should you look for?

Alex Barre-Boulet is the Lightning’s latest undersized, speedy forward at 5 feet 10. He and AHL Syracuse teammate Carter Verhaeghe led the league in goals last season with 34 each, and Barre-Boulet led the league’s rookies with 68 points and was named AHL rookie of the year.

Cal Foote was the best defenseman in Syracuse by the end of last season. The 14th overall draft pick in 2017, he is bigger and more confident than he was entering his first pro season a year ago.

Nolan Foote, Cal’s brother, was the Lightning’s top draft pick this year at 27th overall. At 6-4, he’s a big-body forward with a good shot.

Mikhail Shalagin, a seventh-round draft pick this year, comes from the Russian junior league. The forward, 19, doesn’t have a contract with the Lightning or with a KHL team. Some Russians elect to play in the KHL until they have a good shot at making an NHL roster. Shalagin could do that or play in Syracuse this season.

Oleg Sosunov is hard to miss at 6-8. The Russian defenseman spent last season going between the AHL and ECHL, and is looking for a consistent spot in Syracuse.

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Can players in rookie camp make the NHL right away?

Sure. The Lightning has had one player do so each of the past three years: Brayden Point in 2016, Mikhail Sergachev in 2017 and Mathieu Joseph last year. Those who don’t make the roster right out of camp can still make an impression. That’s what Erik Cernak demonstrated last season.

“When you come to camp and earn a spot that gives (the Lightning) the best chance to win, there you go,” Roest said.

How do I watch the tournament?

The Lightning rookies will play three games in Antioch, Tenn., near Nashville. They play a Predators team at 4 p.m. Saturday, the Hurricanes at 4 p.m. Sunday and the Capitals at 10 a.m. Tuesday. In the Tampa Bay area, games can be watched at The live stream will be restricted by location outside the area.


  1. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  3. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  6. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  7. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
    The Kings are the latest team to bring their annual trip to Tampa. The Capitals and Senators have also done so this year.
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) on the ice against the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 7. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Journal: Plus the perfect kill ended, celebrating Gasparilla early, a four-on-four overtime.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal along with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after beating Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the score at 3. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay gives up the first two goals, responds with two more all within seven minutes.