Clearing up the Tampa Bay Lightning roster just got a lot easier today as it turns out that defenseman Paul Ranger won’t be coming to training camp. Damian Cristodero of Lightning Strikes gets the scoop.
Not that this is a huge surprise, but Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said on Wednesday that defenseman Paul Ranger, who has been away from the team since October because of personal issues, will not be at training camp when it opens Sept. 17 at Brandon.
“I had a chance to talk with Paul and we’re entering training camp under the assumption Paul won’t be part of it,” Yzerman said.
That is a bit of a blow to the team, which believed Ranger, who can move the puck, would be a good fit with coach Guy Boucher’s puck-forward system. It also seems to have ended, for now, the organizational debate on whether to carry eight defensemen. Yzerman said he is “satisfied” with the seven blue-liners on one-way deals and is not looking to add another.
This now sets the Lightning lineup to be virtually all set on defense and helps explain at least one of the recent signings. The Lightning blue line will now roll with Mattias Ohlund, Pavel Kubina, Victor Hedman, Brett Clark, Randy Jones, Mike Lundin, and Matt Smaby. Ranger, a restricted free agent, would’ve been in a battle for a spot as the fifth or sixth defenseman this season, but after struggling last year with injuries, battling back for a place on the team would’ve been tough.
While this hurts Tampa’s depth a bit, especially after dealing away Matt Lashoff to Toronto, they appeared prepared for any moves after signing Randy Jones. Lundin and Smaby saw some good time last year but it does make the Lightning depth on defense look a bit suspect. That said, their top four are likely to see a ton of time.