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Five things you need to know about Tuesday's informal skate in Brandon

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning
  1. The Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up informal workouts at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum on Tuesday with most of the squad spending a significant amount of time in four-on-four action. Wednesday, the Lightning continue their sessions but on the newly-installed ice at Amalie Arena (sorry fans, Amalie Arena sessions are not open to the public).

Here's four more things you need know about what happened in Brandon on Tuesday...

Boyle Time

Brian Boyle arrived in Tampa Bay last Monday night and skated with his new teammates on the Brandon ice for the first time Tuesday morning. Boyle was signed as an unrestricted free agent to a three-year deal during the offseason after playing in 107 games (including playoffs) for the New York Rangers last season, scoring nine goals and assisting on 17 more.

“I’m very, very excited for the challenge and the new opportunity,” Boyle said. “Change can be a good thing.”

The 6-foot-7 center nearly won his first Stanley Cup last season as the Rangers advanced to the Finals but were beaten by the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Boyle said the talent on the Tampa Bay roster was a major factor in his signing with the Lightning.

“There’s a lot of potential here,” he said. “I won a lot of games last year. I came real close last year with New York…Going through that makes it, it makes you hungrier. You realize how difficult it is. You want that challenge, and you’re ready for that challenge.”

Stamkos skates

Lightning center Steven Stamkos skated with his teammates for the first time Tuesday.

Stamkos, who says he is nearing 100% after a broken bone in his right leg forced him to miss 45 regular season games during 2013-14, thinks the offseason moves the organization made could foster a deep postseason run.

“We didn’t finish the year the way we had hoped for, but that young core of guys that we had now have that experience, and the management group, ownership group did an unbelievable job of bringing in the guys that they thought fit the mold and obviously bringing in some guys that have won in this league and have been in situations,”

Stamkos, 24, said. “They know how to react, so that’s going to be good, especially for the young core that we do have. We’re excited. That’s all you can ask for as a player is your management group and your ownership group bringing in guys that are going to give you a chance to win.”

Drouin dazzles

Tampa Bay’s 2013 first-round NHL Draft selection (third overall) Jonathan Drouin impressed during four-on-four skating at Tuesday’s workout session, displaying his speed and stick-handling ability while scoring a couple goals.

Here's one of the goals:
The 19-year-old, who was voted the league’s top prospect by NHL.com on Tuesday, even caught the notice of Bolts captain Stamkos.

“He looks great out there,” Stamkos said. “I think from what I’ve heard, from what I’ve seen, (the year with Halifax in the QMJHL) made a big difference. The first thing, it probably lit a fire under him a little bit. He’s out there to prove a lot of people wrong, and that’s a good thing for us. Physically, he looks a lot bigger, stronger. His skating looks great. His shot looks great. He’s always had his smarts on the ice and playmaking ability.”

Drouin had hopes of making the NHL club out of training camp last season but was sent to the QMJHL, where he starred for the Halifax Mooseheads, scoring 29 goals, adding 79 assists and recording 108 points in just 46 games.

“Last year didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but this year is a different story,” Drouin said. "I want to be on this club. I think I’m a step closer than I was last year."

Irving to camp

The Bolts have invited former first-round draft pick Leland Irving to training camp on a professional tryout contract. Irving, the 26th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames, spent last year in Finland for Jokerit of the SM-Liiga and recorded a 23-18-12 record with a 2.14 GAA and .922 save percentage.

Irving made his NHL debut with the Flames during the 2011-12 season, appearing in seven games and going 1-3. In two NHL seasons (2011-12, 2012-13) in Calgary, Irving stopped 331 of 367 shots.

Irving, 26, could provide veteran depth to an already stacked Lightning goaltending corps that features starter Ben Bishop, veteran backup Evgeni Nabokov and highly-touted prospects Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

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