The Lightning put veteran wing J.T. Brown on waivers Saturday with plans to send him to AHL Syracuse if he clears Sunday at noon.
GM Steve Yzerman said the move was about creating roster flexibility, creating some room for a potential callup from the Crunch.
"I wanted the flexibility within our roster, when the time comes, to recall players currently excelling in Syracuse and give them an opportunity to play," Yzerman told the Times.
Yzerman has praised prospects like Adam Erne, saying he's "been playing his way out of the American League."
The Lightning has also been impressed with Carter Verhaeghe and Russian Alex Volkov, who is finding his way in his first year pro. Matt Peca was an AHL All-Star.
No callups are expected immediately, as the Lightning is the middle of a five-day bye week, with its next game Thursday against Vegas at Amalie Arena.
Brown, 27, in his fifth full season with Tampa Bay, has played in just 24 of the team's 44 games this season (one goal, three assists). Brown and Cory Conacher have alternated being healthy scratches when the Lightning goes with 12 forwards. This could free up a spot for Conacher, who has more offensive upside.
This still has to be tough for Brown, a gritty fan favorite who has made a significant impact off the ice. On Oct. 7, Brown, one of 30 black players in the league, became the first NHL player to perform a silent protest of of the anthem, in an attempt to raise awareness for racial inequality and police brutality. Brown has since done a lot of work with the Tampa Police Department, including going on ride-a-longs and joining them for trick-or-treeting in the troubled area of Seminole Heights.
The Lightning already lost forward Gabriel Dumont to Ottawa after placing him on waivers earlier this season. If Brown clears, he could get more playing time with the Crunch.