The Lightning are saying the move is due to a “material breach of contract.”
According to Friedman, Tampa Bay was unhappy with the 24-year-old’s conditioning at the opening of training camp.
According to Lightning beat writer Joe Smith, Dotchin plans on fighting the team’s decision. The defenceman’s agent, Sam Perreault, told Smith they are considering all options available to appeal the decision, and that, as far as they know, the club’s move was related only to Dotchin’s conditioning and not any other issues.
The move comes as a surprise as the Lightning reportedly made steps to protect Dotchin at the June 2017 expansion draft. Tampa traded Nikita Gusev and two draft picks to Vegas to ensure the Golden Knights selected Jason Garrison in the expansion draft, with speculation being the Lightning wanted to protect Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek.
It came as a surprise to Dotchin’s teammates as well, it seems.
“It’s news to us,” Lighting rearguard Victor Hedman told Smith on Friday. “We’ve been on the ice all day. But he’s a great kid. A kid who has a lot of upside, and lot of potential. We’ll see what happens down the road.”
Selected in the sixth round (161st overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, Dotchin has played in 83 NHL games for the Lightning over the past two seasons, recording 22 points and 73 penalty minutes.