The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed center Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Friday.
Namestnikov, 22, was selected by the Lightning 27th overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft. In 43 games with the Lightning this season, he emerged onto the scene by scoring nine goals and had 16 points, and also appeared in 12 post-season games as Tampa Bay made its run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Witkowski, 25, appeared in 16 games for the Lightning this season. He spent the majority of this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Brian Hart.
Marchessault, 24, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract. He spent the bulk of the 2014-15 campaign in the AHL where he scored 24 goals and 67 points in 68 contests. However, he was also used twice during Tampa Bay’s playoff run and averaged 11:27 minutes per game during that stretch. Prior to that, he scored his first career NHL goal on April 11 against Boston.
Hart is turning pro now that he’s armed with a three-year, entry-level contract. The 21-year-old spent the last three campaigns with Harvard, scoring 18 goals and 50 points in 98 career NCAA games.
Tampa Bay originally selected him with the 53rd overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
The Lightning have no shortage of restricted free agents that still need to be addressed, including Vladislav Namestnikov, Mark Barberio, and Andrej Sustr.
Lightning forward Cedric Paquette will be a gametime decision for tonight’s potential Eastern Conference Final close-out game against the Rangers, though the decision may have already been made.
“He’s questionable in your terms,” Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said during today’s media availability. “Very questionable.”
Paquette appeared to injure his right hand while blocking a Derick Brassard shot in the first period:
The gritty forward, who’s appeared in 17 of Tampa Bay’s 18 playoff games thus far, returned after some time in the dressing room, but finished with just 5:43 of ice time — well off his 12:36 TOI per game average this postseason.
Paquette then briefly participated in today’s optional morning skate, before retreating to the dressing room.
If Paquette can’t go tonight, it’s expected that Vladislav Namestnikov will draw in. The Russian forward has one assist in 11 playoff games this spring.
Brian Boyle was something of a surprise scratch in Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury. The Lightning were secretive about his status in the lead up to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final tonight, but as it turns out he’s good to go.
Boyle was put back into the lineup and is projected to play alongside Brenden Morrow and J.T. Brown on the fourth line. Vladislav Namestnikov, who skated with Morrow and Brown in Game 1, will be a healthy scratch after dressing in 11 of the Lightning’s first 12 playoff contests. Namestnikov was limited to just 6:52 minutes of ice time on Saturday.
By contrast, Boyle has averaged 15:36 minutes per contest in the postseason, including 2:49 in shorthanded situations. The Lightning suffered a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 without him.
“(Boyle’s) a big part of our team,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after that contest. “He kills penalties for us. He’s a big body. He can wear on teams. Of course we miss him.”
On second thought, Game 1 made Lightning’s Cooper ‘want to vomit’
Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t want to completely rule out Ryan Callahan for Game 6 despite the fact that the forward underwent an emergency appendectomy on Monday. Callahan was unsurprisingly not part of the Lightning’s lineup for Tuesday’s contest against Montreal though.
As projected, Cooper instead inserted Jonathan Marchessault into the lineup over Jonathan Drouin. That decision raised a few eyebrows as Drouin is a highly regarded young forward while Marchessault has just four games worth of NHL experience.
That being said, Marchessault has excelled in the minors with 24 goals and 67 points in 68 AHL games this season. He’ll play alongside Cedric Paquette. Tampa Bay is going with seven defensemen with Nikita Nesterov serving as the extra blueliner.
Callahan’s absence is also projected to led to Brenden Morrow playing alongside Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown. Tampa Bay’s top two lines should stay the same.