Well its the end of the road (literally) for this week-long preseason trip as the Lightning play their final exhibition game of 2009 in Atlanta against the Thrashers tonight. Yesterday was a day off but there was still some news as Tampa Bay signed James Wright to a standard three-year entry level contract. Wright is a great kid and certainly deserves the contract after a solid camp. The Lightning also trimmed their roster by 11, leaving the team with 29 players as they head back to Tampa tonight.
As I said Friday, some of the players went to the Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina football game yesterday. Everyone said it was a good time. Victor Hedman even said everything he knew about football he learned from playing the Madden video games. Wright, attending his first college football game as well, had to leave at half time to finish paper work on his new deal.
With the PGA Tour in Atlanta this week, Mike Weir was at the morning skate today meeting and greeting some of the team prior to teeing off at noon. As for the game, Mike Smith will get the start in net. The rest of the line-up, which is close to the opening night roster according to Rick Tocchet, includes Vincent Lecavalier, Alex Tanguay, Steve Downie, Wright, Jeff Halpern, Drew Miller, Todd Fedoruk, Zenon Konopka, Stephane Veilleux, Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, Paul Ranger, Matt Walker, Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster.
Ranger will be making his NHL preseason debut tonight after playing in the scrimmage on Friday. He was being held out for precautionary reasons after undergoing surgery in the off-season.
"Ranger was probably the guy working the hardest in the Norfolk game," Rick Tocchet said. "He's itching to go."
As the trip comes to a close Tocchet offered this: "There was value in it, but it was tough. We managed it pretty well."
Be sure to catch tonight's game on 1250 WHNZ. It will also be aired on 620 WDAE following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the New York Giants game.