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‘Little rat’ Richard to make NHL debut for skidding Bolts

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Tanner Richard, 71st overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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The Lightning have worked in a few of their young prospects already this season -- like Brayden Point, Slater Koekkoek and Joel Vermin -- and tonight, they’ll add another to the list in Tanner Richard.

Richard will make his NHL debut tonight when the slumping Bolts take on the Wings in what should be a testy affair, given 1) Tampa Bay’s recent slide, and 2) the fact these two have met recently in the playoffs, where things have gotten ugly.

It’s little Richard, the 71st overall pick in 2012, is drawing in for the Detroit game.

“I’m pretty hated by most teams in the AHL,” Richard said, per the Bolts website. “So that tells me I’m doing an alright job being a little rat.”

The 23-year-old might’ve made his name as an agitator, but has show some serious offensive upside this season. Richard sits fourth in Syracuse in scoring, with 17 points through 22 games, and is being counted on to provide a lift a Lightning team that’s just 2-7-2 over its last 11 games.

“He deserves this opportunity,” Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said, per the club’s Twitter account. “He competes, and he’ll go to those dirty areas.”