Because the Tampa Bay Lightning's abbreviated training camp feature fewer players than a normal camp, few positions are considered up for grabs.
Perhaps the only true open spots involve forwards. And with LW Cory Conacher seemingly set on the second line after working almost exclusively with C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Teddy Purcell through four days, that leaves only one position truly open.
The Lightning are taking a close look at C Tyler Johnson, who finished second in rookie scoring in the American Hockey League last season behind Conacher, to perhaps fill a spot. Johnson worked on the second power play unit and took shifts on the third line during the scrimmage.
"He's very smart, he's very fast and basically does everything right,'' head coach Guy Boucher said of Johnson. "Back in the American League, they put him on the power play, on the penalty kill, center against the other team's top line. He does it all. He is just a very reliable, smart offensive and defensive player.''
Heading into camp, bringing Johnson in for a look might have been considered a reward for the work he has done. He continues to center the top line in Syracuse, playing in all situations and leading the team with 20 goals and 35 points. But Johnson has done enough to warrant a serious look.
He's just doing whatever is asked of him during camp, not worrying about whether his time will be extended into the weekend.
"This is just a great opportunity for me to get to know the guys, get to know the systems and get familiar with everything and hopefully get an opportunity to play in Tampa at some point,'' Johnson said.
"I'm just trying to relax. I can't think about anything too much. It's entirely up to the organization, what they feel is best for the team and what is best for me. I know that whatever happens is going to be the best thing for me.''
Roster decisions must be made soon to be ready for Saturday's opener against Washington. But nothing has been decided yet, Boucher said.
The deadline to place players on waivers to be eligible for reassignment to the American Hockey League is 12 p.m. Thursday, with the NHL roster deadline set for 3 p.m. Friday.
"Nobody is set,'' Boucher said.
By the time the team returns home for Friday's open practice at The Forum, however, the roster will be established.
"When we go on the ice on Friday, we will have our team,'' Boucher said.
During that Friday open practice, which begins at 11:30 a.m., fans will be offered a free lunch on the west plaza that includes hot dogs, Italian sausage, hamburgers, chips, canned soda and water. Free parking is available in the west lot on a first-come, first-served basis.
With such a short training camp and no exhibition games to get ready for the start of the season, there has been a fine line for players between pushing hard and avoiding injury.
Thus far, that line has been walked successfully.
"The first day was kind of a shock to the system, but since then the practices have been hard, but they have not been crazy,'' captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "We are playing (scrimmage) games at high intensity and we want to be ready. We want to play hard. We want to practice hard, but we don't want to hurt ourselves, either.''
Nuts and Bolts
D Matt Taormina missed his second day of camp while receiving treatment for an unspecified injury. Boucher said Taormina was "stiff'' but didn't indicate if the defenseman would be back on the ice on Thursday. ….C Tom Pyatt had his third goal in two days while C Steven Stamkos scored twice to give Team White a 3-0 victory in Wednesday's scrimmage. G Anders Lindback pitched the shutout. …The Lightning will hold its final practice at Germain Arena at 10:30 a.m. Thursday before busing back to Tampa.