Carrying eight defenders on a 23-man roster is rare, but it is something the Tampa Bay Lightning has decided to do as of now. Two players that help make up the eight are Andre Sustr and Mark Barberio.
“It’s a great achievement for me to come out of college and make a team the next training camp,” Sustr said. “I’m pretty happy with myself right now but I know I need to keep going and stay consistent.”
Seen skating in the top-six at practice, the 22-year-old appeared in two games with the Lightning last season, recording a plus-1 rating. Sustr acknowledged the Lightning for supporting its prospects.
“It’s unbelievable how much of a chance we’re getting here as young players,” he said.
Barberio also appeared in two games with the Bolts in 2012-13 and has been a part of Tampa Bay’s system since the 2010-11 season when he played for their AHL affiliate at the time the Norfolk Admirals. He was also a part of the 2011-12 Calder Cup-winning Admirals team.
The 2008 NHL draft pick by the Lightning was a player expected to make the final cut.
“Year-by-year I just try to improve in all facets of my game,” Barberio said. “Defensively I wanted to get stronger and be accountable on the ice. I also want to continue to be a good puck mover and getting the puck up to forwards so they can play.”
While going against the grain with the amount of blueliners making the team, it simply was a matter of which players deserved the spot more, according to Cooper. In the case of Barberio and Sustr, the two’s camp play argued their case successfully.
IS HEDMAN HOPING TO DROP THE GLOVES?
The team-first attitude is continuing to trickle its way to Tampa Bay veterans. During Tuesday’s practice blueliner Victor Hedman was seen taking advice on dropping the gloves from fellow Bolt B.J. Crombeen.
“You never know when a fight is going to break out,” Hedman said. “I’m always going to stick up for my teammates and if it is the case where I have to drop the gloves, then I’m going to do it.
Last season Crombeen led the league with 14 major penalties and ranked sixth for penalty minutes. The second-year Lightning forward said Hedman asked for a few tips on how to defend himself properly if he gets into a situation.
“We need him on the ice,” Crombeen laughed. “He’s a good player, so hopefully he’s not fighting too much and he’s more worried about scoring goals.”
With the decision of who will be the new Lightning captain coming Tuesday evening, Cooper was asked what type of captain he was looking for this season:
“I’ve heard of captains who’ve been quiet and who’ve been vocal. I heard Nick Lindstrom was an unbelievable captain and didn’t say a word. I know Steve Yzerman was regarded as one of the greatest captains ever and evebody who talks to me about Steve just says he has a presence about him; when he walked in the room everybody stood at attention, but wasn’t an unbelievably vocal guy until things went haywire, then he stood up. I heard Mark Messiah was regarded as one of the greatest captains ever and he was pretty vocal in the room. Guys go about it different ways, it’s just whatever way is effective. ‘Do I think the guy has to be a rah,rah guy all the time?’ I’m not so sure that’s the complete approach to go by, but you have to have a presence there’s no doubt in my mind.”
ODDS ‘N ENDS
Rookie forward Ondrej Palat did not participate in practice today due to administrative reasons regarding long-term injury cap space.
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