BRANDON — The Lightning team that took the ice for practice Tuesday morning at TGH IcePlex looked very much like the one that could make up the team’s opening-night roster when the regular season begins a week from now in New York against the Rangers.
The camp roster was down to 26 players Tuesday after the Lightning sent forwards Alex Barre-Boulet, Gemel Smith and defenseman Sean Day to AHL Syracuse. Barre-Boulet and Smith cleared waivers earlier Tuesday before being reassigned.
The players still battling for the remaining roster spots — forwards Cole Koepke and Gabriel Fortier and defenseman Nick Perbix — are waiver-exempt, meaning they can be sent to Syracuse without the risk of being lost.
By exposing Barre-Boulet and Smith to waivers, the Lightning risked losing them and depleting their NHL-ready forward depth. Expansion Seattle claimed Barre-Boulet last season, but Tampa Bay re-acquired him through waivers later in the year.
Tuesday’s moves provide the Lightning with additional flexibility as they hone in on their opening-night roster.
Injured forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Zach Bogosian, both recovering from shoulder surgery, will open the season on long-term injured reserve. That will provide some added cap space, potentially allowing the Lightning to keep Koepke, Fortier and Perbix on the 23-man roster to open the season.
Forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who is on an AHL contract, remains on the camp roster for now but hasn’t been around the team since it returned from Nashville…