Six prospects will head back to juniors to start their seasons.

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they have reduced their training camp roster by six players. Forwards Kevin Hancock, Alexey Lipanov, Christopher Paquette, Taylor Raddysh, defenseman Oleg Sosunov, and goaltender Joseph Raaymakers will return to their respective juniors teams.

Lipanov, Raddysh, and Sosunov played in last night’s 2-1 defeat at home to the Carolina Hurricanes. Hancock and Raaymakers were both with the team as invitees and weren’t expected to play in any pre-season games. Paquette, the second cousin of Cedric Paquette, will also return to his junior team without playing a pre-season game.

None of these cuts are unexpected. The CHL leagues are starting up their seasons over the next few days and this allows the players to get back to their teams for opening night. None of these players were in contention for NHL spots, but Hancock was attempting to earn an entry level contract with the team.

The only players left on the training camp roster that are ineligible for the AHL are forwards Brett Howden, Boris Katchouk, Otto Somppi, and Jonne Tammela, and defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote.

Katchouk will be playing in tonight’s game at Carolina and should be sent back tomorrow. Somppi and Tammela continue to rehab from injuries, but are likely also headed back to their respective juniors teams in the coming days.

Sergachev continues to fight for an NHL roster spot and will make his Lightning debut tonight against the Hurricanes. You should expect to see him in at least three, maybe four, games during the pre-season while the coaches evaluate him and the other defensemen in training camp. If he does not make the team, he would also head back to juniors. That decision will most likely happen at the end of training camp.

Howden is in an interesting position because he could be in play for the Lightning’s third center position. Howden is competing with Yanni Gourde, Matthew Peca, and Anthony Cirelli for that spot. Additionally, since Gourde could play center or wing on the third line, he’s also battling with Adam Erne and Mitchell Stephens who could play on the wing while Gourde takes the center spot.

Howden has the two-way game to jump right into the NHL and he had a very good offensive season in 2016-17. At a minimum, I expect the Lightning will take a long hard look at him in pre-season and give him 2-3 games. This would be much like they did with Brayden Point prior to the 2015-16 season before sending Point back to the WHL.

The training camp battles continue and there are a lot of players to watch all over the roster.


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com