It's quite possible the well-rounded game showcased by left wing Alex Killorn from the moment he stepped on the ice in a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey last season made Cory Conacher an expendable commodity in the eyes of management.
Conacher was the key component in a trade with the Ottawa Senators in April that landed the Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Alongside Steven Stamkos for much of the year, Conacher finished his rookie season with nine goals and 24 points in 35 games.
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Since the day Killorn was selected in the third round (No. 77) of the 2007 NHL Draft, he has grown on and off the ice. He was 5-foot-8, 170 pounds on draft day, and when he made his professional debut with the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League in April 2012, he was 6-1, 197. In 17 playoff games for the 2012 Calder Cup-winning Admirals, he had three goals and 12 points with a plus-5 rating.
During last season's work stoppage, Killorn had 16 goals and 38 points in 44 games for the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL under current Lightning coach Jon Cooper. With Tampa Bay, Killorn never appeared overmatched and finished eighth on the team with 19 points (seven goals) in 38 games following his promotion. He finished fifth on the team in shots (82) and ninth in average ice time (16:49), and ranked sixth among Tampa Bay forwards in hits (40) and fourth in blocked shots (22).
"Alex is a little older (24) and played four years of college, then went to the AHL and seamlessly filled in as a top six player from a top-nine guy," Cooper said. "He took our Syracuse team on his back during the [2012-13] season and I expect big things from him with the Lightning."
The current 6-2, 205-pound left-handed shot likely will enter 2013-14 as a top-nine forward for Cooper. A solid training camp may move him up a notch on the depth chart.
Killorn spent four years with the Harvard Crimson of the ECAC, and was a Hobey Baker nominee in 2011-12 after scoring 23 goals and 46 points in 34 games.
"He progressed every year as a player both offensively and defensively," Tampa Bay director of amateur scouting Al Murray told NHL.com. "He's got a quick release and a nose for the net offensively, and is a real big body and hard player to play against without the puck. Alex is a player we've been waiting for and are excited about."