The Tampa Bay Lightning have yet to play first round pick defenseman Slater Koekkoek in their lineup this season, despite making the opening night roster – so he’s been sent down to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch and the team has recalled fellow blue liner Matt Taormina to replace him.
Taormina, a former Providence College skater who went undrafted at the NHL level, has been in Tampa Bay’s system on and off since 2012.
Initially a member of the New Jersey Devils organization, the 29-year-old native of Warren, Michigan has skated with New Jersey, Tampa Bay, and the AHL affiliates for the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets during his pro career. He boasts four goals and 12 points through a collective 59 regular season NHL games across those franchises, returning to Tampa Bay after a brief time away for the start of the 2015-16 season.
For Tampa Bay, he serves as a better healthy scratch than Koekkoek, who has been considered a quality prospect for the Atlantic Division club since getting drafted 10th overall by the club in 2012. By swapping the two out, the 22-year-old Koekkoek can receive top minutes in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch instead of remaining in the press box with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning, who have gone 3-0-0 to start their 2016-17 season first in the Atlantic Division, will next play tomorrow evening against the Colorado Avalanche. They will host the Central Division club at home at 7:30 PM EST.