TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning rookie forward and No.3 overall draft pick Jonathan Drouin earned the reputation as a play-making winger who can score goals.
But the Lightning want to get a look at him at the center position.
During last week’s prospect tournament in Coral Springs, Drouin played in two of the three games, testing the ice at center in the second game.
“In junior, he played on the wing, but he was with a talented player in (No. 1 overall pick) Nate MacKinnon, so I think that was the right fit for them in that situation,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper siad. “Maybe the right fit in our organization is the wing, maybe it’s at center. So, we are giving him a look in both spots just to see where he can fit. He’s not the only one we are moving around, but he comes with the third overall tag on him and a microscope on him, so we’ll see how he looks.’’
What did Cooper think of Drouin in the prospect game and during Thursday’s first on-ice practice?
“I thought he looked great,’’ Cooper said. “I was pretty impressed.’’
During practice, Drouin skated at left wing during drills with 2011 first-round draft pick C Vladislav Namestnikov and 2010 first-round pick RW Brett Connolly.
Former Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier reported to camp on Thursday — in Philadelphia.
The Lightning’s all-time leader in games played, Lecavalier is absent from Tampa Bay’s training camp for the first time since 1998, when he was drafted first overall. For players who were around Lecavalier the past few seasons, not seeing him at training camp is a bit of a strange feeling.
“I don’t think it’s going to set in until the season starts,” center Steven Stamkos said. “You keep expecting to see him walking through the door. We know it’s different, it’s tough, but that’s part of the game. You lose close friends and teammates. We just wish him the best. We just have to move on with what we have to do.’’
Thursday’s first practice — with players divided into three groups for three different sessions — had an up-tempo feel.
“I thought today was pretty faced pace for the first day, which is a good sign,’’ Stamkos said. “Guys are pretty excited, ready and willing to compete for spots on this team.’’
Cooper said some of that is by design to utilize the nervous energy that comes with the first day of practice.
“Guys are excited, everybody is a little on edge and they are rushing the drills a little bit,’’ Cooper said. “The first group, first drill, everybody was missing passes just because they are excited. It was a little bit up-tempo.
“These guys come in in excellent shape, but you have to get them into game shape. You can’t ride a bike all summer and expect to be in game shape. But the energy level was great and if they can keep what we had here today through the rest of camp, it could be a good start for us.’’
Nuts and Bolts
New C Valtteri Filppula was between RW Teddy Purcell and LW Alex Killorn for practice, while LW Ryan Malone skated with RW Marty St. Louis and Stamkos. ...Friday’s practice sessions are closed to the public. ...Cooper might try to find preseason game time for all five goaltenders, including Kristers Gudlevskis the team’s fifth-round draft pick this year. ...The team will hold intrasquad scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.