In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to shake up their roster. After sending Erik Condra and Adam Erne back down to the AHL yesterday, the team has recalled forward Gabriel Dumont from the Syracuse Crunch today. The 26-year-old center is in his first season with Tampa Bay, after signing a deal with the team this summer, but has yet to make his Lightning debut. It is expected that he will get the opportunity to do so when the Bolts return to action on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres. Dumont has not played an NHL games since February 2015, and in total has a goal and two assists in 18 NHL games with his former team, his hometown Montreal Canadiens. Dumont has ten points in 19 games for the Crunch so far in 2016-17.
Meanwhile, Tampa also made a move in net, sending down backup Adam Wilcox and replacing him with highly-touted prospect Kristers Gudlevskis. This could signal the end of Andrei Vasilevskiy ’s long run without a rest. Since Ben Bishop went down with injury, Vasilevskiy has started ten games in a row and the Lightning have allowed six goals in three of those last four starts. Wilcox did not make an appearance in his stint with the team, but considering the diminishing returns of Vasilevskiy, it would seem likely that Gudlevskis gets the chance. The young Latvian keeper has made just one NHL appearance per year in three of the past four seasons, missing out on his annual try in 2014-15 and coming in as a late-game replacement earlier this year. Though a small sample size, Gudlevskis has a stunning .959 save percentage and 1.37 goals against average in those few appearances. Though Vasilevskiy is on a three-day break and Bishop appears close to returning (back at practice today), expect Gudlevskis to get a shot while in Tampa and have his first multi-game NHL season.
Update (4pm CT): Forget all of that about Gudlevskis getting to make an appearance on this trip to Tampa. Less than 12 hours after recalling the minor league goalie, the Lightning have returned him to the Syracuse Crunch. This means that the Bolts coaches liked what they saw out of Bishop today and expect the star keeper to be back in action sooner than predicted. Heading back to the AHL with Gudlevskis is defenseman Slater Koekkoek, the 2012 first-rounder who is still trying to carve out a role for himself with the Lightning. Koekkoek has already far surpassed his career high in games with 29 on the season, but has little to show for it with four assists and a -4 rating. He’s continually been shifted in an out of the lineup and has now been demoted to Syracuse for the eighth time this season.
In other moves:
- The Nashville Predators have promoted forward Pontus Aberg to the NHL squad, as the rookie winger has been nearly a point-per-game player for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals this season. He has already earned nine games with Nashville so far, but has just one goal and one assist to show for it. The Predators hope he can bring his minor league scoring touch to the big leagues and stick around for a longer stint this time around. The 2012 second-round pick has had a strong AHL career, but had not developed a complete enough game for the NHL level until this season, as least in the eyes of GM David Poile.
- As speculated yesterday, the Calgary Flames have recalled defenseman Brett Kulak from the Stockton Heat. In a corresponding move, Tyler Wotherspoon is headed back to the AHL. The 23-year-old Kulak has bounced back and forth this season, but has already played in a career-high 15 NHL contests. He has three assists in that span, and a goal and four assists in 11 games with Stockton. Wotherspoon has been held scoreless in four NHL games this season, and has six points in 20 AHL games so far. The 2011 second-round pick has not developed as the Flames would like and has seen his small role somehow decrease over the past few seasons.
- A day after placing veteran goalie Curtis McElhinney on waivers (and subsequently losing him) and re-calling young Anton Forsberg, the Blue Jackets were forced to promote Joonas Korpisalo today as starter Sergei Bobrovsky is sick and unable to go tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Forsberg will start tonight’s game, with Korpisalo as the backup.
- The Buffalo Sabres have placed forward Derek Grant on waivers. The journeyman center has played in 35 games already with the Sabres, but has only three assists to show for it. A team still looking for their identity, Buffalo is better served playing their own home-grown young talent rather than mediocre veterans, likely promting Grant’s movement.
- Andrej Nestrasil has cleared waivers and will be assigned to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. The Hurricanes have been busy on the waiver wire this season, including both claiming and losing Detroit’s Martin Frk and recently adding former St. Louis Blue Ty Rattie. Given Nestrasil’s age and his decent output in each of the last two seasons, as well as the fact that the only other player on waivers, McElhinney, was claimed, Carolina is lucky that this waiver transaction wasn’t yet another newsworthy one.
- As expected, the Vancouver Canucks have recalled defenseman Andrey Pedan from the Utica Comets of the AHL. With Ben Hutton joing the laundry list of out or injured Canucks blue liners, Pedan can expect an extended stay in Vancouver, which needs all the defensive depth it can get right now.
- With T.J. Oshie ready to return to the Capitals lineup, Washington has returned forwards Paul Carey and Liam O’Brien to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. While both forwards are having good seasons in the AHL with 25 and 18 points respectively in 28 games apiece, neither has managed to turn minor league success into any NHL production. The duo have combined for four points total in 42 combined games over the past four seasons.
More to come