The web site of the Finnish SM-Liiga team Rauma Lukko is reporting that Lightning forward prospect Lauri Tukonen has left the Tampa training camp early and will be arriving back in Rauma on Saturday in time to participate in team drills on Monday. Tukonen, while not yet reassigned to Norfolk, failed to make the team roster for either of the Lightning's first two exhibition games. The Lightning signed the former LA Kings 1st round pick to a one-year, two-way contract on July 16, but his contract reportedly has a European out-clause allowing the winger to return to Lukko instead of reporting to Norfolk.
Open roster slots on the Tampa forward lines are heavily contested and the competition apparently has gotten even tougher with head coach Rick Tocchet quoted as saying today that 2009 1st round pick Carter Ashton "has shown enough that he could stay. He's done everything asked of him." Ashton will make his NHL debut tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers in Tampa's only home pre-season match, and he is expected to start on Tampa's top line alongside Vincent Lecavalier and free agent acquisition Alex Tanguay.
Meanwhile, the Norfolk Admirals have announced that their 2009 training camp will open Wednesday, September 23 with the scheduled Admirals vs. Lightning exhibition match two days later on Friday at the Scope. Admirals GM Mike Butters announced that the following free agents will attend training camp: D Ben Wright, D Trevor Hendrikx, C Ryan McDonald, C Travis Whitehead, former Lightning prospect LW Justin Keller, RW Matt Dias, RW Stephen Werner, RW Erick Lizon, RW Chaz Johnson and RW Tommy Goebel. These free agents will join Lightning prospects Kevin Quick, Scott Jackson, Chris Lawrence, and Mitch Fadden who were assigned to Admirals yesterday from the Tampa training camp. Other Lightning players will join the Admirals camp as the Tampa staff continue to trim down the NHL roster.
The Admirals will hold on-ice practice sessions at The Scope next week. Beginning on Thursday, September 24, all weekday on-ice practices will be open to the public. Wednesdayâ€™s training camp testing sessions and all weekend practices will be closed to the public. The Admiral camp schedule is as follows:
Confirming a story that broke earlier today, the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed prospect center Blair Jones and right wing Lauri Tukonen, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.
Jones, whose 3 year entry-level contract expired at the end of last season, finished as the Norfolk Admiralsâ€™ second leading scorer last season and was the only player to appear in all 80 games. The Lightning acquired Tukonenâ€™s rights from the Dallas Stars last November in exchange for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, set career highs with 20 goals, 34 assists and 54 points in 80 games for the Admirals last season. He ranked second in scoring, fourth in goals, second in assists and tied for second in power play goals (8) with Norfolk. He also established a new AHL Admirals franchise record with 271 shots on goal, ranking third in the American Hockey League. The 22 year old center has appeared in 155 games with the Admirals over the past two seasons, tallying 34 goals and 96 points. He ranks 12th all-time in AHL Admirals scoring and is just four points away from becoming the tenth player to record 100 points in his AHL Admirals career. Jones has appeared in 200 career AHL contests between Norfolk and the Springfield Falcons, recording 39 goals and 117 points. Jones was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round (102nd overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He has appeared in 24 career National Hockey League contests with the Lightning, recording one goal and three points.
Tukonen, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound native of Hyvinkaa, Finland, skated in 35 games in the Finnish Elite League last season. He scored five goals and 13 points in 21 games with Ilves Tampere while netting three goals and eight points in 14 games with Lukko Rauma. Originally drafted 11th overall by Los Angeles in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Tukonen, 22, has skated in five career games with the Kings (2006-07 and 2007-08). He has appeared in 185 career American Hockey League games with the Manchester Monarchs, tallying 36 goals, 103 points and 74 penalty minutes. Tukonen skated in three World Junior Championships for Finland from 2004-2006, collecting Bronze Medals in 2004 and 2006. In 2006, he finished third in tournament scoring with three goals and 10 points in seven games.
According to a transfer listing on eliteprospects.com, the Lightning have signed former L.A. Kings first rounder Lauri Tukonen to a one year deal. Tukonen was acquired from Dallas last November by the Lightning for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson. Tukonen played for Lukko and Ilves in his native Finland last year, totaling 8 goals and 13 assists in 35 games before injuring his knee. He traveled to Tampa last April to have the injury inspected by Lightning doctors. He was recently qualified as a restricted free agent by the Lightning. No official announcement of the signing has been made by Tampa Bay.
Update: No official press release has been publish by the Lightning yet, but the Club has confirmed the signings of both Tukonen and Blair Jones via the TBLightning twitter account.
Players receiving qualifying offers were defensemen Lukas Krajicek, Matt Smaby, Matt Lashoff and Mike Lundin; forwards Martins Karsums, Blair Jones, Radek Smolenak and Lauri Tukonen; and goaltender Karri Ramo. Both Smolenak and Ramo have signed contracts to play in the KHL next season.
Interesting nugget buried deep in one of Erik Erlendsson's blogs:
Lightning prospect and former Kings first round pick Lauri Tukonen has been in Tampa to get an injury looked at. Tukonen missed much of the second half of the season with Lukko of the SM-liiga with an injury. Now, Erlendsson says in the blog that Tukonen isn't an impending signing, but it's something that makes you wonder.
Also, thanks to Erik for linking to the BP profiles for several players.