The Lightning have announced that winger Cole Koepke has been reassigned to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. His roster spot could go to Tanner Jeannot, who’s nearing a return to play after missing the last six games with an upper-body injury and is currently stashed on injured reserve.
Koepke, 25, made his NHL debut for the Bolts last season after they selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. He made the team out of camp and played 17 games last season, scoring once and posting a -5 rating, but was sent to Syracuse after two months and did not return. He didn’t make the team out of camp this year after a disappointing sophomore season with the Crunch post-demotion, but he turned things around with 13 goals and 24 points in 36 AHL games this year and earned himself his second recall of the year late last week.
He has played nine games for Tampa this year, recording his first two NHL assists while logging 6:42 per game. The Minnesota native has logged nine shots on goal, generating decent offense for his limited ice time, although his 42.6 CF% at even strength leaves much to be desired in terms of limiting chances against. Signed to a one-year, two-way extension in June of last year, he does not have enough NHL experience to require waivers to be assigned to the minors. He will need to pass through waivers beginning next season, however.
Koepke has been a healthy scratch in two straight, so it’s clear he wouldn’t stick on the Tampa roster long-term even if Jeannot weren’t nearing a return. He will be an RFA with arbitration rights this summer if the Lightning choose to issue him a qualifying offer.