The Tampa Bay Lightning could be getting a young defenseman back in the coming days, as Cal Foote was assigned to the AHL on a conditioning stint. Foote is recovering from offseason finger surgery and will be able to get up to speed with the Syracuse Crunch.
Foote, 22, played in 35 games as a rookie last season for Tampa Bay, averaging fewer than 13 minutes a game. By the time the playoffs rolled around though and the Lightning had made some in-season additions, he found himself on the outside looking in and failed to suit up for a single postseason game.
Heading into this season it looked like Foote would be in line for a full-time spot, but after missing training camp and the first few games he’s lagged behind the bottom pairing of Jan Rutta and Zach Bogosian. Now that Bogosian is dealing with an injury of his own and Andrej Sustr of all people is in the lineup, there’s certainly a chance for Foote to grab hold of a spot if he can quickly move through the last stage of his rehab.
While the Lightning are once again operating in long-term injured reserve space, defense appears to be a place where they could make an improvement at some point this season. It’s up to Foote to make sure they don’t need to, by stepping into that bottom-pairing role and running away with it.