Tampa Brings Back Witkowski

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Witkowski, 29, skated in 34 games with the Detroit Red Wings last season, collecting two assists and 23 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman has spent the past two seasons with the Red Wings, appearing in 65 games over that stretch while posting a goal and six points.

The Holland, Michigan native started his NHL career with the Lightning when he was drafted by the Bolts in the sixth round, 160th overall, at the 2008 NHL Draft. Witkowski has appeared in 54 career games with Tampa Bay, posting four assists. He has skated in 218 career American Hockey League games, all with the Syracuse Crunch over five seasons and served as the captain of the Crunch during the 2016-17 season.

Bolts Ink D Luke Schenn to One Year Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Luke Schenn to a one-year contract worth $700,000, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Schenn, 6-foot-2, 221 pounds, skated in 26 games with the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks in 2018-19, recording two assists. He was traded from Anaheim to Vancouver in January. Schenn also played in 22 games for the San Diego Gulls and seven with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Schenn has played in 734 career NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Ducks and Canucks, recording 30 goals, 145 points and 545 penalty minutes.

Schenn, 29, was drafted by Toronto in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft.

Lightning Sign G Curtis McElhinney to Two-Year Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent goaltender Curtis McElhinney to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $1.3-million, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

McElhinney, 36, appeared in 33 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, posting a 20-11-2 record to go along with a 2.58 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with two shutouts. He set career highs for games played, wins and saves (1,978) during the 2018-19 season. The London, Ontario native also played in five Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2019, winning three games with a 2.01 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound goaltender has played in 219 career NHL games over 13 seasons with the Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames, registering a record of 82-82-15 to go along with a 2.81 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. McElhinney was previously acquired by the Lightning on February 24, 2011 from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Dan Ellis. He was then claimed off waivers four days later by the Ottawa Senators.

McElhinney was originally drafted by the Flames in the sixth round, 176th overall, at the 2002 NHL Draft.

2019 Post-Draft Prospect Rankings


Introduction

The 2018-2019 regular season has come and gone and it was the best season in Lightning history. Then the playoffs happened. A funny thing happened on the way to lifting the Cup and it happened so fast the only thing most Lightning fans remember was the culprit was wearing a blue jacket and John Tortorella was giddy.

The Lightning took the first step to putting both the good and bad of the 2018-2019 season behind them this past week with the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Tampa Bay added seven prospects to the farm, and some were bigger than others. But where does Nolan Foote, Max Cajkovic, and others fit into the current stable of youngsters? Glad you asked. We’ve added the newbies into the existing group to come up with our post-draft rankings.

As usual, a refresher is in order about the rules of the rankings. Only players under the age of 24 on opening night of the regular season are eligible to be ranked. Skaters with 41 NHL games in a single season or a total of 82 career NHL games are considered graduated and are ineligible to be ranked. Goaltenders with 30 decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions are also considered graduated. Finally, NCAA-based players are eligible for the rankings for the duration of their college careers, irrespective of their age. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Consult your doctor if … nevermind.

And away we go…

Bolts Ink 2019 1st Rounder Nolan Foote to ELC

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Nolan Foote to a three-year entry level contract, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today. The Lightning drafted Foote from the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League with the 27th overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia this past weekend. Nolan is the younger brother of the Lightning’s 2017 first-round pick Cal Foote and the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote.

Foote, 18, skated in 66 games with Kelowna during the 2018-19 season, posting 36 goals and 63 points to go along with 62 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the Rockets for goals and power-play goals (17) and was tied for second for points. His 17 power-play markers ranked tied for fourth in the WHL. The Engelwood, Colorado native set career highs last season for games played, goals, points and penalty minutes last season.

The 6-foot-3, 188-pound forward has played in 168 career WHL games, all with Kelowna over three seasons, posting 68 goals and 138 points to go along with 118 penalty minutes. Foote has also appeared in 22 career WHL playoff games, recording three goals and 10 points.

Training Camp Numbers: Podcast Episode No. 11

The podcast is back this week as Andrew and I talk about the summer ahead for Tampa and what the Lightning need to do to get a “win” this offseason. 

That includes NHL free agency, trades, buyouts, and extensions for guys like Brayden Point.

Also, Andrew has a source, and I get to chat about the recent NHL draft.

For first-timers, Training Camp Numbers looks at Lightning prospects (who get and are often stuck with the obscure training camp numbers), Lightning talking points, and the NHL news of the week.

Thanks to Andrew Weiss for leading and hosting the show. Enjoy the Lightning talk on iTunes, Spotify, and a bunch of other platforms. Our thanks to Erik for joining in. Be sure to find him (and become a member) at Lightning Insider and Lightning Power Play.

Click here to listen.

Archive:

2019 NHL Draft Snap Reaction

Most organizations fresh off the disappointment of a first round playoff sweep in a year of unprecedented expectations might've limped quietly into the NHL Draft. Not the Tampa Bay Lightning. Armed with a sizable to-do list and a handful of draft picks, the Lightning systematically checked off each task en route to a successful weekend in Vancouver.

Seventh Round - Two Hundred Thirteenth Overall: W/C McKade Webster

Name: McKade Webster
Position: RW/C
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 167 lbs.
Shoots: Right
Club: Green Bay (USHL)

The Lightning take a really nice low risk high reward pick in McKade Webster to round out their draft. Webster came to the USHL from the storied Shattuck's St. Mary's program where he was a prolific point a game player. Much was expected of Webster this season heading into his second year in the tight checking USHL ranks, but an injury held him to just six games. Webster is committed to the prestigious University of Denver program, which recruited him because of his excellent skating, stickhandling, and playmaking ability. Upon getting Webster's commitment, DU assistant coach Tavis MacMillan said, "McKade is a cerebral, playmaking winger. His deft touch and stickhandling abilities enable him to put pucks into space or make crisp passes depending upon the situation. McKade is a proven offensive producer at every level with the ability to control the pace of the game when the puck is on his stick. He is another gifted offensive player who will fit in very well with the tempo and style of game we play at DU.”

Pros:
- Excellent skater
- Gifted playmaker who controls game pace with his puckhandling and creativity

Cons:
- Lost a season of development due to injury
- Needs to bulk up at just 167 lbs.

Projection:
- Another really exciting scoring line NCAA project for the Lightning organization

Seventh Round - One Hundred Ninety-Eighth Overal: LW Mikhail Shalagin

Name: Mikhail Shalagin
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: Left
Club: Spartak Jr. (RUS Jr.)

A man among boys in the Russian junior league, 19 year old Mikhail Shalagin put up a league record 48 goals in the MHL this past season. An enormous young man at 6'4" 185 lbs., Shalagin brings all the offensive flair to the table you'd expect from a smaller Russian player in a larger, fun-sized frame. The lone knock on Shalagin is a heavy first step and it'll be interesting to see if he continues to produce against better competition that he sees in the uneven MHL ranks.

Pros:
- Large man with a frame that can pack on even more muscle
- Skillset of a smaller player with excellent finishing touch

Cons:
- Heavy first step and needs to work on his skating
- Hasn't played against top-flight competition yet

Projection:
- Could be a steal of a scoring line power forward

Sixth Round - One Hundred Eighty-Second Overall: D Quinn Schmiemann

Name: Quinn Schmiemann
Position: Defenseman
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: Left
Club: Kamloops (WHL)

The Lightning continued to replenish their blueline pipeline taking a flyer on very young defender Quinn Schmiemann out of Kamloops in the WHL. The 17 year old was a regular in the Blazers lineup known for being extremely responsible positionally and for his excellent mobility. Schmiemann is not considered to be overly adventurous offensively, but he did put up a respectable 28 points in 58 games in his first full campaign in the WHL. The biggest knock on Schmiemann is that, although he does have a decent frame with room to fill out, he's somewhat soft along the wall and in the physical game.

Pros:
- Excellent mobility
- Intelligent defensive positioning
- Responsible in coverage
- Younger prospect with plenty of time to develop

Cons:
- Needs to fill out his body
- Not overly assertive physically
- Not overly assertive offensively

Projection:
- Bottom pair project

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