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Lightning give six prospects closer look in a third preseason game

Carter Verhaeghe scores twice in an OT loss to the Predators; Tampa Bay also trims its training camp roster by 14.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) confers with forward Alex Barre-Boulet (60) before a face-off during the first period of the preseason game on Tuesday against Carolina. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 21
Updated Sep. 22

The first four preseason games give the Lightning a chance to look at players, most of whom are prospects the NHL team doesn’t often see closely.

For players expected to eventually be returned to other teams, that means a quick look, maybe a game for the Lightning staff to get a sense of where they are in their development.

MORE LIGHTNING: Join our Lightning Strikes! Facebook group for conversation, polls, story links and more

For others, such as 2019 first-round draft pick Nolan Foote and undrafted free-agent signee Jimmy Huntington, the staff was getting a first look. Huntington said after Friday’s game against the Predators at Amalie Arena that he considered himself fortunate to have gotten to play two games.

Then there are players the staff wants to take a good, hard look at. Six players played in their third preseason game Saturday night in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Predators in Nashville: forwards Alex Barre-Boulet, Danick Martel, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Verhaeghe and Alex Volkov, and defenseman Cal Foote. Verhaeghe had two goals, and Foote and Stephens had assists.

With the exception of Martel, that is a list of the Lightning’s top prospects. Martel is something between a prospect and a NHL regular. He spent all but a couple of weeks last season with the Lightning after being claimed off waivers during training camp, but he played only nine games with them.

MORE LIGHTNING: Alex Volkov scores the first goal of the Lightning’s preseason

Last year, when Mathieu Joseph (an assist against Nashville) and Erik Cernak (a goal Saturday) were being evaluated, they each played in three of the first four preseason games. Joseph played in five of seven total, a team high. He made the Lightning out of camp. Cernak was called up in November and stayed with the team the rest of the season.

The Lightning trimmed their training camp roster by 14 Saturday. Huntington and nine others were assigned to Syracuse, and the four remaining players on camp invitations were released from their tryout contracts. Of the 14, nine did not play in a preseason game.

Forward lines

Matheiu Joseph-Anthony Cirelli-Alex Volkov

Nolan Foote-Otto Somppi-Mitchell Stephens

Pat Maroon-Yanni Gourde-Carter Verhaeghe

Danick Martel-Ross Colton-Alex Barre-Boulet

Defensive pairings

Cameron Gaunce-Luke Witkowski

Dominik Masin-Erik Cernak

Cal Foote-Luke Schenn


Scott Wedgewood

Zach Fucale


  1. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates with teammates after he scored in overtime of the team's NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. The Avalanche won 5-4. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    Now the Avalanche head to Amalie Arena for a showdown with the Lightning on Saturday.
  2. Nikita Kucherov teams with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos to give the Lightning one of the most potent top lines in the league. They'll face off against another "super line" Saturday against Colorado. Tampa Bay Times
    After the Boston Bruins’ super trio, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov look for more success against Colorado’s concentrated scorers.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  4. Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) goes down along the boards as he chases the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning centers Alex Killorn (17) and Anthony Cirelli (71) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’ notes from the game: Why not try Mikhail Sergachev with Ryan McDonagh? Point empty on the shootout again.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) scores against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    They outplayed Boston five on five in the shootout win but were lacking on the power play and penalty kill.
  6. Jon Cooper and Derek Lalonde addressed the Boston College hockey team at Chestnut Hill on Wednesday. Courtesy of Boston College
    Eagles’ Hockey Hall of Fame-bound coach Jerry York invited Cooper to speak to his team
  7. Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Jake DeBrusk in Monday's game against the Ducks. Pastrnak had four goals against Anaheim and enters tonight's game against the Lightning on a roll. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Tampa Bay finishes up the road trip with one of its toughest division rivals
  8. Montreal has something to offer for everyone. Diana C. Nearhos
    Julien BriseBois, Alex Killorn and Mathieu Joseph sent Diana C. Nearhos out to see some of Montreal’s favorite spots.
  9. Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price deflects a Tampa Bay Lightning shot during the second period Tuesday. PAUL CHIASSON  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’s takeaways: A streak broken for Jonathan Drouin, fun in-game player videos.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrate a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during a game in Toronto this month. COLE BURSTON  |  AP
    The Bolts are home for games against the Avalanche and Penguins, plus wrestling and volleyball.