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Lightning re-assign Marchessault, Paquette and Witkowski

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a handful of roster moves Monday to get closer to 23, the maximum number of players allowed by the National Hockey League.

Forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Cedric Paquette and defenseman Luke Witkowski were reassigned to the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate in Syracuse.

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All three players had tremendous training camps according to Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman, who said the decision was a difficult one.

“You don’t take joy in disappointing players, but they’re professionals and they understood,” Yzerman said. “They’re not happy about it, but they understood. As much as they want to play, they just have to continue to go down and play well and they’ll get their opportunity.

All three players give the Lightning options should an injury or poor performance necessitate a call up from Syracuse.

“We’re fortunate and we’re pleased that we have good young players that give us options,” Yzerman said. “Those players understand it’s not the end of their careers. I explained the situation and where they’re at in the organization and what we’re trying to do as an organization.”

Still on the roster are forwards Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov, who led the NHL preseason in goals (6) and assists (7), respectively.

“Those two had a great training camp and a great preseason. The two of them have worked very well together and have made the most of their opportunity.”

Also one of the 24 is Brett Connolly, who has been praised for great training camps the past two years but had to start the season in Syracuse because of a numbers crunch.

“Last year, he had a great preseason,” Yzerman said. “It was hard to send him down. He was very disappointed. He’s had a solid training camp. He’s earned the right to be here.”

The Lightning have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to make one more decision to get the roster down to 23 players.

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