Training camp starts Monday for teams around the NHL headed to the postseason. Teams are allowed up to 30 skaters and an infinite number of goalies for camp, then have to narrow that to 31 total players to take to Toronto on July 26 for the playoffs.
The Lightning have a camp roster of 33 players, including injured Steven Stamkos, who is expected to be ready when games begin next month. The coaches came up with a breakdown of 19 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goalies with a dual purpose: to determine their final roster and prepare the regular lineup for the playoffs.
Here’s where we left those players when the NHL shut down its season March 12 because of the coronavirus.
Last year’s AHL Rookie of the Year, Barre-Boulet was highly-touted but did not have a great showing in 2019 training camp. He returned to Syracuse for the year and again led the Crunch in scoring with 27 goals and 56 points in a season that ended in March because of the coronavirus. Barre-Boulet got the final spot on this camp roster, created by Steven Stamkos’ leg injury suffered in voluntary workouts during the shutdown.
In his second full season, Cirelli was on his way to a 20-goal season. He also took on top defensive assignments, making a name for himself in the league and essentially leading the way on the team’s focus on defensive responsibility.
The wing joined the Lightning just before the trade deadline. Coleman only recorded one assist in nine games, but he was brought in to be a physical presence and played a pest role, sticking on players like Toronto’s John Tavares.
The final player acquired right at the trade deadline, Goodrow immediately clicked with Coleman on the penalty kill — maybe there’s something to the idea of bonding over being new.
The season pause has dragged on so much that the 36 games Gourde went without a goal doesn’t even seem that long ago anymore. Gourde demonstrated how much of an impact he can make without points.
The center/wing moved throughout the lineup. Johnson spent time on each of the first, second and third lines. His 14 goals were down from 29 last year (average 0.2 per game versus 0.3), but his assist rate went up.
The second-year wing was unable to pick up where he left off with his great season last year. Joseph returned to the AHL in December. He bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL a couple of times but largely stayed in Syracuse after that. Joseph was one of the most likely next recalls as of the shutdown.
After coming within five goals of 20 in five previous seasons, the wing finally hit the milestone this year. Killorn might have flirted with 30 had the season continued normally. He played a bigger role on the second line and on the power play, while also taking on more leadership in the dressing room.
The defending Hart Trophy winner wasn’t on the same historic pace as last year, but he was still heading for another 100-point season. Kucherov had issues transitioning to the Lightning’s more defensively responsible system and was benched mid game in December. He then had points in 22 of 23 games before the shutdown.
The nine-year veteran joined the Lightning as a free agent fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Blues to add physicality. He also took on a leadership role, calling out the team about making stupid mistakes, even after winning 4-0 against the Canadiens just before the shutdown and stressing the need for focus down the stretch.
The wing went into 2019 training camp looking stronger and faster, then quickly got on pace for a near-career year in goals. Palat’s 17 goals doubled last season’s production in five more games by the shutdown. Scoring is great but not the Lightning’s biggest need from Palat, who played a strong defensive game.
The center was another player on pace for career numbers. Nearly everyone who didn’t set a career high last year would have done so this season. He finished the shortened season one point below his career high of 19 points. He and Pat Maroon clicked well and were a force with Yanni Gourde on the other wing.
The Lightning’s top center helped set a tone for the team’s focus on defensive responsibility. Point didn’t put up the flashy numbers he did last year, finishing with 25 goals and 64 points, but he maintained a high shooting percentage, 17.7.
The forward played only three games at the start of the season when Cedric Paquette was hurt, but Smith clicked with Pat Maroon and Luke Witkowski. Facing off against that physical play, and his strength with puck protection and extending shifts in the offensive zone, will help the Lightning prepare for the playoffs.
The NHL took a break just in time for Stamkos to recover from his March core muscle surgery, then he got hurt again in voluntary workouts during the shutdown. General manager Julien BriseBois said Saturday he expected Stamkos to be ready to play in the playoffs. Stamkos had shifted to wing full time, playing with Brayden Point and making space for Anthony Cirelli at second-line center.
On watch lists but not expected to make the team out of camp, Stephens was recalled from Syracuse on Dec. 9. He bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL a couple of times but eventually stuck in the NHL. He stood out at the faceoff dot, particularly as a penalty-kill specialist.
The 24-year-old rookie impressed in training camp after leading the AHL in scoring last season. He scored his first NHL goal — and got his first multipoint game — on Dec. 7 and landed a hat trick a month later.
After two seasons on the training camp watch list, Volkov again started the season in the AHL. He got his first taste of the NHL in November when injuries hit the team before a trip to Sweden for two games with the Sabres. In nine games over three appearances, Volkov’s play improved but never demanded a full-time spot. He would have been an option for a recall.
Early in the season, before being sent to the AHL, Witkowski fit right in on the fourth line with Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette. He’s another who brings a level of physicality to help the Lightning get ready for the playoffs quickly. Witkowski is a natural defenseman who plays forward, which adds a layer of security.
The Lightning signed him Feb. 23 after his contract was bought out by the Sabres. Bogosian played eight games before the shutdown.
Coming off a breakout season, Cernak continued to be a reliable defensive presence. He got suspended for two games for an elbow to the face of Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin in November, then in February was on the receiving end of a kick in the chest with a skate from Edmonton’s Zack Kassian, who was suspended for seven games.
The 34-year-old played only 40 games, his lowest number in seven seasons. Coburn dealt with a knee injury and also found himself outside a defenseman-heavy lineup.
The 2017 first-round draft pick spent another year in the AHL, and while he might have been able to play in the NHL, it was probably better for his development not to. His 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame and skill will challenge the Lightning in camp in preparation for the playoffs.
The top defenseman missed the Lightning’s last two games, in Detroit and Toronto, with the last in a series of injuries on the blue line. Hedman played with almost everyone on the team, looking for the right partner in a revolving lineup.
The second half of this season was injury-studded for McDonagh. When games stopped, he had just come back from a leg injury suffered blocking a shot. This was after he missed six games in January. McDonagh’s absence demonstrated the impact he brings, taking the lead in defensive situations.
Before going legs first into the boards after a collision in a Feb. 4 game, Rutta was having something of a breakout season. He had combined with Hedman and stepped into a role on the top pair. He was hurt hitting the boards at a weird angle and ended up not playing again, though he was nearing a return when the season ended.
The 21-year-old demonstrated his physical force this season. Sergachev had been considered an offensive defenseman, but he put a lot of effort into his positioning and use of his body to become more of a two-way player.
The 12-year NHL veteran started the season in the AHL after playing in that league for the first time last season. He was recalled as injuries plagued the blue line and stayed in the NHL, though he played only 25 games.
The 31-year-old fit right into the Lightning’s season theme of redemption after being bought out by his hometown Rangers in the offseason. He brought another veteran voice to a defense corps that had lost Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, and he was on pace for a near 40-point season.
The five-year pro spent most of the season in the AHL, with a few games in the ECHL as the Lightning’s minor-league system overflowed with goalies. He played three games for the Avalanche in 2017 due to injuries. The Lightning coaches wanted four goalies in this camp to facilitate scrimmages, so bringing in the two main Syracuse netminders made sense.
The 12-year veteran got off to a rough start, competing in tough circumstances when the team did not play well in front of him (like in the second half of a 4-3 overtime loss in October at Carolina), but he settled into a rhythm as the season went on.
The star goalie was slow out of the gate. Vasilevskiy wasn’t bad per se, but he was not up to expectations coming off of his Vezina Trophy-winning season. He settled in by December and looked like the acrobatic brick wall with eyes in the back of his head that Lightning fans know and love.
The nine-year AHL veteran signed to be the Lightning’s third goalie before the organization ended up with six. He has stepped into the NHL twice, first for four games with the Devils in 2015-16, then 20 games with the Coyotes in 2017-18.