Lightning Announce Prospect Development Camp Roster

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the schedule and roster for the team’s annual Development Camp, to be held from July 2-6 at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum. The roster currently consists of a total of 26 players, 15 forwards, seven defensemen and four goaltenders. The camp is free and open to the public.

The camp will feature some of the Lightning’s top prospects competing in on and off-ice workouts, skating drills and will culminate with the annual 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Once again the tournament will be streamed LIVE on www.TampaBayLightning.com.

The third overall selection of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Jonathan Drouin, will make his second Lightning Development Camp appearance, as will highly-touted goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who will be making his North American debut in 2014-15. Lightning fans will recognize goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis and forward Cedric Paquette from their time with the Bolts last season. Former first-round selection Slater Koekkoek will also be in attendance.

Of those players attending the camp, there are three invitees, including Hobey Baker candidate, Mike Richter Trophy finalist, and Brandon native Clay Witt from Northeastern University. There are also three players who were signed as free agents, and 19 draftees. The drafted players feature six from the 2013 draft, eight from the 2012 draft, three from 2011 and two from 2010.

Bolts Sign Palat to 3 Year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have resigned forward Ondrej Palat to a three-year contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Palat, 23, skated in 81 games for the Lightning during the 2013-14 season, collecting 23 goals and 59 points to go along with a plus-32 rating. He was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy, given annually to the top NHL rookie, which will be announced on Tuesday, June 24 in Las Vegas. He ranked second among all NHL rookies for points and was third for goals. Palat also led all Lightning skaters for points and plus/minus. He became just the third player in Lightning franchise history to finish the season with a plus/minus rating better than 30.

2013-2014 Final Rankings

Introduction
Before saying farewell to the 2013-2014 season in our Final Rankings, lets step back and reflect on what an unprecedented season it was. Eight prospects who appeared on our 2013-2014 Preliminary Rankings list graduated from prospect status during the season (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Radko Gudas, Mark Barberio, J.T. Brown, Richard Panik, Nikita Kucherov, and Andrej Sustr), while another two overage prospects also graduated (Ben Bishop and Alex Killorn). Palat and Johnson were named finalists for the Calder Trophy while Bishop was tapped as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

Put simply, it'll be decades before the Lightning ever have a prospect class like this go through the system again, if ever. Remember that as you read through these 2013-2014 Final Rankings, which reflect a talent pool that has been drained of the majority of its best players. True, there are still two of the best NHL prospects in the land on the list, but the drop-off after the first half dozen or so prospects in the rankings is dramatic now, which was reflected in AHL Syracuse's showing in the standings this season. It's a top-heavy group in desperate need of an infusion of new blood starting in June when Steve Yzerman and the Lightning's scouting staff holds three picks in the top-60 of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. So, if they don't trade any of those picks for immediate help at the NHL level, do not despair, because the need for cupboard re-stocking is real and it's immediate.

Before jumping into the rankings, of course, there's the ever-present need to clarify the site rules pertaining to prospect status. Prospects who were under the age of 24 on opening night of the Lightning's season are eligible for the list. Skaters who have appeared in 41 NHL games in a single season or 82 career NHL games are considered graduated from prospect status. Goaltenders who have accrued 30 NHL decisions in a single season or 41 career NHL decisions are considered graduated from prospect status. NCAA-based players are eligible to stay as prospects even if they are 24 years of age or older.

Yes, this means Brett Connolly is considered graduated from prospect status. No, we're not going to bend the rules on a case-by-case basis. Yes, to paraphrase the old Churchill quote, we think it is the worst set of prospect ranking eligibility rules except all the others that have been tried.

With that out of the way, let's proceed…

Acquisition Targets: Defensemen

It’s no secret the Lightning are in need of another top-4 defenseman if they are to make a run at the conference title next season. With the expected departure of Sami Salo this summer, and the overuse of Radko Gudas last year, there’s a hole next to Victor Hedman on the top pair that has to be filled. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a hoard of tradable assets in his back pocket ready to make a deal (2 first round picks this year and next, young forwards with scoring upside, Gudlevskis/Wilcox) in June.

The following list is as informal as it gets. These are players who are either rumored to be on the block, may be on the block (not “core*” players), or could be available for the right price based on their individual situations or existing depth on their respective clubs.

The list is limited to right-handed defensemen, preferably with the ability to move the puck and run a power play (unless otherwise noted). Lightning coach Jon Cooper used Mike Kostka more than he probably should have last year as he was one of the few (only?) players he had able to move the puck on the right side. Cooper has shown in his career with the Lightning organization that gives his defensemen a bright green light, and the more forward-like they are while maintaining defensive responsibilities, the better.

The following categories are broken down into those capable of top-4 minutes now, those who could work their way into that role quickly, and those who could be acquired in addition to a top-4 if Yzerman wants to get a righty puckmover on the cusp of top-6 defensemen minutes – something that is severely lacking in the system.

World Championships Game Day: Finals

Gold Medal Match
Russia 5 vs. Finland 2
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Sergei Bobrovski made 24 saves for Russia as they toppled Finland 5-2 to win the 2014 IIHF World Championships. Andrei Vasilevskiy sat backup for the triumph. Alexander Ovechkin and former Coyotes first rounder Viktor Tikhonov each had goals for Russia in the victory. Bobrovski and Tikhonov were named the tournament's best goaltender and forward by the tournament directors and Tikhonov also made the media's tournament all-star team.

World Championships Game Day: Semifinals

Russia 3 vs. Sweden 1
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Yesterday, starter Sergei Bobrovski turned aside 22 shots as Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 to advance to the Gold Medal Match of the World Championships. Andrei Vasilevskiy sat backup. Ex-Kings pick Oscar Moller scored the only goal of the match for the Swedes.

Sweden plays Czech Republic in the Bronze Medal Match while Russia draws Finland in the Gold Medal match.

Bolts Give Tyler Johnson 3 Year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed center Tyler Johnson to a three-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Johnson was scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

Johnson, 5-foot-9, 181 pounds, played in his first full NHL season in 2013-14 and parlayed it into a nomination for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. He was one of three players to appear in all 82 games during the regular season, ranking fourth on the Lightning for goals with 24 and fifth for points with 50. His plus-23 rating was second on the team. Johnson was third among NHL rookies for points and tied for first for goals. He led all NHL first-year forwards for average time on ice with 18:47 per game and face-offs taken with 1,275. Johnson became just the second rookie in NHL history, the first since Dennis Maruk in 1975-76, to record five power-play and five shorthanded goals in one season.

World Championships Game Day: Quarterfinals

USA 3 vs. Czech Republic 4
Tyler Johnson, USA, 2-0-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 6-3-9, +3, 2 PIM

Tyler Johnson scored a pair of goals within 13 seconds late in the Third Period in USA's failed comeback as they fell 4-3 to Czech Republic. Johnson was 43% on draws in 21:18 in the match. The Czech's got a helper from ageless Jaromir Jagr in the win.

Russia 3 vs. France 0
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Sergei Bobrovski stopped all 16 shots he faced in Russia's 3-0 blanking of upstart France. Russia got a goal and an assist from Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the win. Also of note, Alexander Ovechkin played 14:46 in the game after shrugging off a knee injury suffered earlier in the tournament.

Sweden 3 vs. Belarus 2
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 14 PIM

Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm’s goal with 6:22 left in the Third Period broke up a tie game and delivered Sweden a 3-2 Quarterfinals win over home nation Belarus. Ekholm also had a helper in the contest.

The Semifinals Round will pit Russia against Sweden and Finland, which defeated Canada today, against Czech Republic.

Bolts Sign Blujus

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Dylan Blujus to a three-year entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Blujus, 20, skated in 55 games with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 season, collecting four goals and 30 points to go along with 56 penalty minutes. He led all Battalion defensemen for assists with 26. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman also skated in 22 playoff games for North Bay, posting four goals and 10 points. Blujus led all North Bay defensemen for playoff goals, with three of his four tallies coming on the man-advantage. He helped guide the Battalion to the OHL Championships against the Guelph Storm.

The Buffalo, New York native has played in 256 career OHL games over four seasons with Brampton and North Bay, amassing 17 goals and 119 points. He recorded a career-best plus-12 rating in 2013-14.

World Championships Game Day: Day Twelve

Group A
Denmark 3 vs. Slovakia 4
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -5, 2 PIM

Jaroslav Janus, Slovakia, DNP
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .960 sv%

Richard Panik completed a scoreless Preliminary Round of the World Championships posting a -1 in 16:04 of ice time in Slovakia's 4-3 win over Denmark. Slovakia got a pair of goals by the Wings Tomas Tatar in the win. Slovakia misses the Quarterfinals Round by 1 point, finishing 5th behind the surprising squad from France in Group A. Canada, Sweden, and Czech Republic also advance out of the Group.

Group B
Germany 4 vs. USA 5
Tyler Johnson, USA, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 4-3-7, +1, 2 PIM

Calgary prospect Johnny Gaudreau had 1 goal and 4 points and was named the USA's best player in their 5-4 win over Germany. Detroit's Justin Abdelkader also had 2 goals for the US in the win. Tyler Johnson was 46% on draws in 22:46 in the match. The US finished in 2nd in Group B and advances to play Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals.

Latvia 2 vs. Switzerland 3
Kristers Gudlevskis, Latvia, Loss, 23/26, 3.09 GAA, .885 sv%
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-3-0, 0 SO, 3.79 GAA, .891 sv%

Switzerland got a goal from Devils forward Damien Brunner and a helper from former Lightning draft pick Luca Cunti in their 3-2 win over Latvia. Buffalo's Zemgus Girgensons had Latvia's only goal in defeat. Latvia finished 6th in Group B and will not advance to the Quarterfinals.

Russia 2 vs. Belarus 1
Dmitry Korobov, Belarus, 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +4, 14 PIM

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 1 SO, 0.50 GAA, .985 sv%

Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 19 shots and was named Russia's best player in their 2-1 win over Belarus. Dmitry Korobov chipped in a helper on a Third Period even strength goal and had a pair of minors for tripping in 16:40 for the Belarusians. Russia finishes tops in Group B and will face France in the Quarterfinals. Belarus finishes 3rd in Group B and will face Sweden in the Quartfinals Round. Finland was the fourth team to advance out of Group B and will face Canada in the Quarterfinals.

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