Ashton parting ways with Tampa; Swedish League next?

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Bolts farmhand Carter Ashton is headed to Europe — possibly to the Swedish Hockey League.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, Ashton informed the organization he’d be playing overseas this year, despite receiving a qualifying offer from the Lightning at year’s end. The decision to qualify came after a tumultuous year in which Ashton tested positive for PEDs while with Toronto, was suspended 20 games, then got shipped to the Bolts in early February.

The 24-year-old didn’t appear in a single game for Tampa this season. All told, he played just seven NHL contests — all with the Leafs — and spent most of the campaign in the AHL with the Marlies and Syracuse Crunch.

As for where he’s headed now, a mid-June report from Swedish news outlet Expressen said SHL clubs were interested. Despite his lack of success at the NHL level, Ashton is still a big body (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) that has pedigree as a former first-round draft pick — the Lightning took him 29th overall in 2009 — so it’s possible teams might see him as a potential reclamation project.