Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning keep making changes on and off the ice (and behind the bench). In the first bit of news, the team announced the firing of Norfolk coach Jim Johnson and “roving” goalie coach Cap Raeder according to Damian Cristodero.
In the latest bit of housecleaning from the previous regime, the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday fired Norfolk coach Jim Johnson and roving goaltenders coach Cap Raeder. Somewhat of a surprise as both, especially Johnson, were lauded by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman for the way they ran the recent development camp. Yzerman went as far as to say he and Johnson were “on the same page.”
Unfortunately for Johnson, Yzerman is clearly writing a new chapter.
Earlier this week, the team announced that two of Guy Boucher’s assistants would serve similar roles in Tampa Bay. The team added a third assistant today, bringing in former Edmonton Oilers assistant Wayne Fleming according to TSN. Here is more on Fleming.
The Lightning have also named Wayne Fleming assistant coach. He has more than 30 years of coaching experience, both internationally and at the NHL level. He served as an assistant to Pat Quinn in Edmonton last season.
Finally, in the last bit of small-time Lightning news, the team signed center Marc-Antoine Pouliot to a one-year, two-way contract.
It’s been a busy summer for the Lightning – and while I cannot really tell you much about the changes made in their coaching staff – I will say that I’ve generally been very impressed with the changes made in Tampa Bay. They might have a few more steps to take before they’re a true contender in the East, but a playoff berth is a distinct possibility in 10-11.
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.
During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.
“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.
“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”
The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.
Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.