Lightning coach Cooper thinking big on rookie Sustr


One of Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper’s biggest missions in training camp is to find a way to make the Bolts’ defense a lot better. One guy who is looking to do that is young defenseman Andrej Sustr.

Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune hears from Cooper about how much Sustr has improved on his game in just a short time.

“You can just see he has grown,’” Cooper said. “Poise, poise under pressure, it looks like the game has slowed down for him a little bit, so he’s making some savvy plays out there. And he has confidence, and you need to play in games to get that confidence. You can sit there and do all the talking you want, but until you are put in the fire you don’t really know how hot it is. I think Sustr has grown, and that’s a good sign with the limited number of games he has played.”

Good thing he doesn’t mean he’s grown literally. At 6’8″ he makes for an imposing figure and at 22 years old he’s a more mature rookie than others.

The Lightning signed Sustr out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha last year and he played in just two late-season games before joining their farm team in Syracuse. If he can produce the way he did in Syracuse and Omaha, Tampa’s defense will get a much-needed boost.