The Tampa Bay Lightning’s preseason is over and Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times writes about where the Lightning look to be as the new season gets under way. The key positive to the preseason is that both Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan look healthy and ready to go for the regular season.
Stamkos, who had knee surgery in mid-November and missed all but 17 games last year, is healthy and played in four preseason games. Smith referred to Stamkos as looking like he never missed any time, although he is still working on his timing, but looks ready to put up big numbers this year. Callahan has also been healthy, after having surgery on his hip and missing all but 18 games a year ago.
Smith writes that the lines will be totally up in the air as the season begins as the only two players who seem to be definitely together will be Stamkos with Nikita Kucherov, who have been together all preseason. The depth on the team is solid as they still have cuts to make, but top talent like 2017 second-round pick Alexander Volkov are right on the horizon. On defense, the team is expecting Jake Dotchin to have a solid season, despite breaking a team rule that kept him out of all, but one preseason game. He has been paired consistently with Victor Hedman in practice.
- The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford tweets that he believes the St. Louis Blues are still interested in free agent Jaromir Jagr, but it would have to be at less than $2MM, which he doubts would happen. He adds in a later tweet that Jagr would also have to accept a third-line role and second-line power play spot.
- The Athletic’s Paul Campbell (subscription required) breaks down what makes Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price so great, citing his tracking skills, his edgework, puckhandling and his unwillingness to give up on a play. Price, who just signed an eight-year, $84MM extension that kicks in next season, dominated the NHL last season with a 2.23 GAA in 62 games.
- Cam Tucker of NBC Sports writes that Boston Bruins’ backup goaltender Anton Khudobin had an excellent preseason and is forcing the Bruins to make a tough decision at that position. Khudobin, who struggled in limited backup minutes last year, was thought to be in heavy competition with Malcolm Subban as Tuukka Rask’s backup. Subban, who has also played well in camp, would have to go through waivers if they send him back to the AHL and there is fear a team in need of a backup goaltender might grab the 23-year-old netminder. Khudobin’s solid preseason of allowing just three goals in two games could keep the 31-year-old in Boston another year.