Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admirals forward Johan Harju says he's unhappy and will likely go home. Whether that is after the season or as soon as this week is yet to be seen.
A report from Aftonbladet.se today states Harju is "about to give up on his NHL dream."
"Right now it feels like I'm going to go home after this season," Harju said (translated via Babblefish).
The report states Harju's NHL "adventure" has not gone as expected. He has moved up and down between the AHL and NHL, but hasn't really received a chance with the Lightning.
"I've given this a chance and the goal was to find a place in the NHL. But I have not managed to get there, there is still 20-30 games, but Tampa does not change a winning team," Harju told Norrbotten's Courier. "Right now it feels like I'm going to go home after this season."
Harju decided to move to the NHL after spending last season in Russia's KHL. Before that, he played four full seasons in the SEL with Lulea Hockey, where he was the league's leading goal scorer in his final season.
LuleÃ¥'s sports director Lars Bergstrom told the news service they'd receive Harju back with open arms.
"We'll see what happens," said Harju.
Harju has spent seven games with Tampa Bay this year, filling in when Simon Gagne and Vincent Lecavalier were out with injuries. He had a goal and an assist in those games and did not look out of place.
As he told the Swedish media, the Lightning will not change a winner, so unless there's an injury, Harju likely won't be on a Lightning scoring line anytime soon. He could be trade bait as the NHL approaches its trading deadline, which could give Harju a chance on another team. He has value and could help in obtaining a top-4 defenseman for the Lightning's playoff run.
No doubt watching his good friend Linus Omark getting plenty of playing time and attention in Edmonton is likely affecting Harju's outlook on the situation, too. Omark had to spend time in the AHL before securing a spot in Edmonton, though the Oilers don't have near the depth that Tampa Bay currently enjoys.
Harju hasn't played like he's unhappy in Norfolk, as he has 16 goals and 30 points in 36 games. He leads the Admirals in goals and is fifth in points.
Another report out of Sweden said the deadline for Swedish teams to bring in players from outside their league is January 31, which would mean Harju would need to leave in the next day or two if he wasn't planning on staying a full season in North America.
While we'll know if Harju's staying in North America until the end of the season in the next few days, whether or not he's with the Lightning next year looks doubtful. He signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay last summer.