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:
Vasily Koshechkin got the day off as Togliatti got rolled by Spartak Moscow 6-3.
Johan Harju got his first KHL point assisting on a goal by, who else, Linus Omark in Dynamo Moscow's 5-3 loss to Yulaev. Harju was +1 in 16:50 and was 75% on draws.
Karri Ramo allowed 2 goals on 17 shots in Omsk's 2-1 loss to Dynamo Minsk.
Tomorrow, Denis Kazionov is in action with Ekaterinburg against Mytischi.
Vasily Koshechkin allowed 5 goals on 32 shots in Togliatti's 5-4 overtime loss to Yaroslavl.
Dimitry Kazionov was scoreless with 3 shots on goal in 12:29 in Kazan's 1-0 overtime win over KHK MVD.
Johan Harju was -2 with 2 shots on goal in Dynamo Moscow's 5-4 win over Astana. Harju's teammate Linus Omark got his first point in the KHL assisting on the game winning goal. Harju was 64% on draws in the match.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 28 shots in Omsk's 5-4 win over Dynamo Riga.
Tomorrow Denis Kazionov and Ekaterinburg square off with St. Petersburg.
Denis Kazionov was scoreless with 2 shots on goal in 14:17 as Ekaterinburg fell to Cherepovets 4-1.
Tomorrow will be a heavy slate for the Lightning's Russian prospects. Vasily Koshechkin and Togliatti take on Yaroslavl. Dimitri Kazionov and Kazan face KHK MVD. Johan Harju and Dynamo Moscow will face Astana. And, finally, Karri Ramo and Omsk will face Dynamo Riga.
Josef Stumpel scored a goal with just nine seconds remaining in overtime to spoil Karri Ramo's Russian debut as Omsk fell to Astana 1-0. Ramo stopped 17 of 18 shots in the match.
Vasily Koshechkin stopped 33 of 36 shots as Togliatti defeated KHK MVD.
Dimitry Kazionov was -2 in 12:20 of ice time as Kazan fell to Spartak Moscow 4-1.
In other news, prospect Denis Kazionov has moved from Khabarovsk to Ekaterinburg. He was -1 in his debut with the club yesterday in the team's 3-1 loss to Magnitogorsk. He played 12:14 in the match. The younger Kazionov and Ekaterinburg will face off with Cherepovets tomorrow.
Johan Harju was scoreless in 15:55 of ice time as Dynamo Moscow fell to CSKA 3-2 in overtime in Harju's Russian debut. Harju, who was versatile in his time in the Swedish Elitserien, played center today and was 53% on draws.
Linus Omark was also scoreless in the match for Dynamo. Among Harju's other Dynamo teammates are former Lightning properties Dimitry Afanasenkov and Vadim Epanchintsev. Afanasenkov had a goal in the match.
Dimitry Kazionov was scoreless in 11:30 of ice time as Kazan defeated Yaroslavl 3-2 in overtime in the opening match of the KHL season.
Tomorrow, Johan Harju will make his KHL debut as Dynamo Moscow squares off with CSKA.
Reports have surface on the Czech site iDNES.cz that Nizhnekamsk of the KHL has cut Bolt prospect forward Radek Smolenak from its pre-season roster. Smolenak had signed a contract with Nizhnekamsk at the end of May 2009 after his entry level deal with the Lightning expired. Smolenak's defection back to Europe came as a surprise after a somewhat successful six-game debut with Tampa during the 2008-09 season. The 22 year old left winger posted a career year bagging 24 goals and 25 assists along with 165 penalty minutes in 71 games for the AHL Norfolk Admirals after being selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Lightning. Heading into the 2009 summer, it appeared that Smolenak was poised to push for a Lightning roster spot in the 2009-10 training camp, but his decision to forego resigning with Tampa as a restricted free agent signaled that he wasn't interested in the possibility of returning to Norfolk.
"It all happened quickly. I joined the preparatory matches and trained, but the mood overall was very good. In the four games we'd succumbed, then head of the club announced that Neftekhimik issue a bit differently," Smolenak said in a loosely translated quote from the Czech web site. Smolenak further indicated he had no immediate plans as to the next stop for his hockey career, but the Bolts continue to hold his NHL rights after issuing the gritty winger a qualifying offer in June. With the trade of the speedy and physical Evgeny Artyukhin to Anaheim earlier this month, the Lightning may very well still be interested in getting Smolenak back to North America for the 2009-10 season.