TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Hockey is back, which means fall is in full swing. Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hockey season begins versus the Carolina Hurricanes, who are coming off a strong 2018-2019 season, ranking first in the metropolitan division and with many returning veterans that helped place them in that position, we know that preseason is primarily a roster battle, but also a skill platform for some rookies and AHL players.
Although there are at least eight veterans on the roster; all eyes will be evaluating the fit and performances of the new additions. The Lighting have been a playoff team for the past couple of seasons and seeing if they have a contending team yet again is a focus at the opening of hockey season. Fans are excited to see 27th overall pick Nolan Foote take the ice. Foote isn’t your typical forward–he’s taller and roughly ten pounds heavier, which caused people to speak on his skating pace. But where Foote may lack speed, he has size, powerful puck skills and an applicable hockey IQ.
In terms of roster battles, at the forward position we’ll see players like Danick Martel and Mitchell Stephens potentially giving vet Cory Conacher a run for that spot. Last season, defensive player Erik Cernak made the Lightning roster. Cernak showed to be a fit in Jon Cooper’s system, especially as a promising offensive defensive player, scoring five times in his NHL debut season.
On the opponent’s side of this match-up, the Hurricanes will monitor their new additions’ performances, particularly Fredrik Claesson, former Rangers and Senators player. Claesson is a simple and smart defensive player that can bring more structure to their defense. Claesson in a recent interview said, “It already feels like home” with the Hurricanes team, so tonight’s game will help determine if that feeling is mutual between him and the Carolina staff.
Our Florida National News poll has the Lightning taking tonight’s victory. Stay tuned with game updates and coverage at www.floridanationalnews.com.
Kasey Hudson is a Florida National News sports contributor. | firstname.lastname@example.org