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Monday, Dec 22, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Notes: Pieces coming together

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— When the dust settled following the frenzied first hours of free agency, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper felt fine about the moves made by general manager Steve Yzerman.

The additions of G Evgeni Nabokov, C Brian Boyle and D Anton Stralman, combined with the trade acquisition of D Jason Garrison and re-signing of RW Ryan Callahan, provide Tampa Bay with more stability on the blue line, a steady backup goaltender and some size up front among a relatively small group of forwards.

“I’ve never seen a team on paper win a Stanley Cup, but we’ve had a plan all along and I think Steve has done an unbelievable job and not rushing everything along,’’ Cooper said. “He’s slowly putting pieces to the puzzle together to create the big picture. And we’ve been selective as to who we want to bring in to our mix. And we needed to shore up our back end a little bit, and I think we did that.

“I don’t think we went into the summer thinking we were going to land two defensemen that can walk right into our lineup, and we did. So we are excited. I like what we have done.’’

With a roster still filled with young forwards, Tampa Bay might still be in the market to add a veteran top-six caliber winger — the Lightning reportedly were a finalist to acquire veteran Jarome Iginla.

“We are young up front. We like our depth, but we are young,’’ Yzerman said.

Tournament time

The annual 3-on-3 tournament started Saturday, and four players are tied at the top of the scoring race with seven points — 2014 first-round pick Anthony DeAngelo (3 goals, 4 assists), Brian Hart (4G, 3A), Jeff Costello (4G, 3A) and Brendan O’Donnell (4G, 3A).

D Ben Thomas is tied with Hart, Costello and O’Donnell for the lead with four goals. LW Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick in 2013, has two goals.

Andrei Vasilevskiy leads all goalies with a .933 save percentage, followed by invitee Clay Witt (.822), Adam Wilcox (.792) and Kristers Gudlevskis (.754).

Team Filppula — which includes Brayden Point, Costello, DeAngelo and O’Donnell — won all three games to open round-robin play.

The tournament resumes at 10:50 a.m. today with three more games to complete round-robin play in the five-team tournament. The semifinals begin at 11:50 a.m. The championship game is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m.

All of today’s games will be streamed live on the team website at www.tampabaylightning.com with Dave Mishkin and BobbyThe Chief’Taylor providing the call.

Three players are not participating in the 3-on-3 games — Adam Erne and Slater Koekkoek because of injuries, and Johnathan MacLeod, who left camp to get settled in at Boston University, where he will play in the fall.

On Point

Point proved to be an offensive force last season with Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League with 36 goals and 91 points in 72 games, but he had to wait until the fourth round to hear his name called in last week’s draft. He was not rated higher due to his 5-foot-9, 160-pound frame.

Point understood the reasoning from scouts, but as he’s watched the likes of Tyler Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Marty St. Louis enjoy success, Point knows there can be a place for him in the NHL.

“When I was picked at the draft, I was really happy, especially going to a team like Tampa that has smaller guys in their system that have done well,’’ Point said.

After Point finishes with development camp, the 18-year-old will return to his home in Calgary and get ready to attend Team Canada World Junior Evaluation Camp in Montreal and Sherbrooke, Quebec, from Aug. 3-8, before returning to Tampa for Lightning training camp.

Peca update

C Matthew Peca is not participating in any on-ice activities after surgery to repair a labrum in his shoulder, which was needed at the end of the season. A potential Hobey Baker candidate at Quinnipiac University, Peca will return to school for his senior season and hopes to lead the Bobcats to the Frozen Four, which he did in 2012.

“There is still a lot I need to improve on, but I feel that I’ve matured as a player,’’ said Peca, a seventh-round pick in 2011. “We’ve had two good seasons the last two years (at school), but we haven’t won anything. We’ve been to the Frozen Four, but we didn’t win anything, so as a team we have a lot to prove.’’

Erik Erlendsson

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