The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they recalled forward Gabriel Fortier from the Syracuse Crunch. This is the first NHL recall for the former 2018 second round draft pick of the Lightning.
Fortier’s recall comes at a time where the Lightning are dealing with multiple long-term injuries to their forward group, and the unknown status of Mathieu Joseph after he left Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild due to injury likely necessitated an additional forward’s presence to start the week. With the next game coming up Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues, there is a possibility Fortier makes his NHL debut.
But what do the Lightning have with Gabriel Fortier?
Fortier is in his second season of pro hockey with the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League and currently sits third on the team in scoring, but first among prospects on entry-level contracts.
Fortier has shown solid progression this season as his 11 points (4 goals & 7 assists) in 17 games already eclipsed his 10 points (6 goals & 4 assists) from last season’s 30 games.
To me, his closest comparable on the Lightning is the player he might be filling in for – Mathieu Joseph. Fortier is a quick skater that excels at playing a north-south style of hockey and getting to the front of the net. Additionally, his defensive prowess is likely the best of any forward currently in the Lightning prospect system.
Lightning fans might also recall his heroics in the October 1st preseason game where his hat trick propelled the Lightning to an 8-5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Additionally, Fortier’s character is highly thought of in the organization as he served as an alternate captain in this season’s prospect tournament, and we mentioned in the Crunch’s October recap that he wore the “A” a handful of times to start the AHL season while some veteran players were away from the team for various reasons.
There remains the possibility that the Lightning opt to go with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, and leave Fortier scratched Tuesday. Cernak’s return from injury is still imminent and Lightning defense prospect Sean Day is also currently up on the NHL roster after being recalled last week. If no updates are provided by the team prior to tomorrow’s game, pregame warmup line rushes will give fans the first look at who might be playing.