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BRANDON, Fla. -- Brayden Point will make his season debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNO, SUN, NHL.TV) if he is medically cleared in time, coach Jon Cooper said Wednesday.
The center, who missed the Lightning's first three games recovering from offseason hip surgery, practiced in full for the second straight day Wednesday, skating on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
He began practicing without a noncontact jersey days before the season began; his original timetable for a return was late October.
"We've all watched him play, he's one of the guys that drives the bus for us," Cooper said. "You miss players like that when they're gone. Hopefully if he gets cleared, he'll be ready to go on Thursday."
Point, who had an NHL career-high 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists) last season, signed a three-year, $20.25 million contract (average annual value $6.75 million) on Sept. 23.
With Point, Stamkos and Kucherov, Tampa Bay would have three players on the same line who had at least 40 goals and 90 points last season; Kucherov led the NHL with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists), and Stamkos had an NHL career-high 98 points (45 goals, 53 assists).
"With those two guys you just try to find open space," Point said Tuesday. "They're very smart and they can see the ice very well. So just trying to read off them is the biggest thing."
Last season, Cooper kept Point and Stamkos on separate lines, but with Stamkos' move to the wing, they would been reunited. Cooper wasn't ready to say if that would be permanent.
"As I've said a million times, it's a different year," Cooper said. "It's our fourth game, and if you look back at last year, we did a lot of the same things -- just trying to put guys in positions to help them succeed.
"We have full confidence the way the lines are set up that they are going to drive us. If they don't, we'll switch them up, but guys are pretty comfortable where they are. We'll see what happens."
The Lightning are carrying 12 forwards as they continue their six-game road trip. Cooper said there might be a call-up before Thursday; center Gemel Smith was sent to Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.
Center Cedric Paquette is skating on his own and remains week to week with an upper-body injury, Cooper said. Paquette was injured in the final preseason game against the Florida Panthers on Sept. 28.