Brett Connolly - Rising Titan

( Whether the game be played at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, or at the Ice Sports Palace Sibir in Russia, many young and talented hockey players looking to enter North American professional hockey acknowledge the pressure that hangs on their draft year.

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was no exception, as many players from all over the world came together in Los Angeles just after taking part in their draft year.

Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars was no exception.

To read this interview, including Connolly's thoughts on being drafted, his immediate future, and Lightning Director of Player Personnel Jim Hammett's thoughts on the pick and Connolly's health, see by clicking here.

Prospect Camp Preliminary Roster

The Lightning have assembled a preliminary roster for the upcoming prospects camp July 10-14 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The following roster, courtesy of Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, includes at least three goaltenders, 12 defensemen and 17 forwards. All 2010 draft choices will be participating.

Lightning Re-Sign Lundin, Purcell to 1-Year Deals

(Tampa Bay Lightning Release) The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Mike Lundin and right wing Ted Purcell to one-year contracts today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Lundin, 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, has played in 155 career games with the Lightning, recording three goals and 21 points. He made the Lightning directly out of college at the University of Maine in 2007-08 and went on to represent Tampa Bay in the 2008 NHL YoungStars Game in Dallas. That season he led all Lightning defensemen, second overall on the team, in plus-minus rating with a plus-3.

Tampa Signs Brett Clark; Nate Thompson Files for Arbitration

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Brett Clark to a two-year contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The organization also confirmed that restricted free agent forward Nate Thompson has elected to file for salary arbitration. His hearing date has not yet been scheduled by the league, but forwards Ted Purcell and Paul Szczechura along with defenseman Mike Lundin elected to waive their rights to arbitration.

"In Brett Clark, we are adding an experienced, intelligent defenseman who plays the game efficiently," Yzerman said. "He'll not only help steady and stabilize our defense, we expect him to help mentor our younger defensemen as they grow and develop. We are pleased he elected to join the Lightning today."

Clark, 6-foot, 195 pounds, has played in 517 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens. He has amassed 34 goals and 139 points with 11 power play goals. Clark has had a even rating or higher in five of the previous six seasons and averaged more than 20 minutes in ice time per game in three of the previous four. He led the NHL in shifts per game during the 2007-08 season.

Lightning Ink Big Euro Forward Niklas Persson

Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed big Swedish forward Niklas Persson to a one-year, two-way contract on Friday. For the undrafted 31 year-old late bloomer, the signing marks the realization of a childhood dream to have a shot to play in the NHL.

Persson played last season for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik in the KHL, and three seasons for Linkoping before his KHL tour. During that four year span, the 6'02", 205 lbs forward, tallied 59 goals and 84 assists in 219 games. Persson won bronze medals with Team Sweden in both the 2009 and 2010 World Championships along with the Elitserian SM silver medal in 2007 and 2008 with Linkoping.

Persson told Aftonbladet, "I go over to take a place in the NHL. That is where I want to play, absolutely. I have written a two-way contract, and there is certainly a way out if I need it, but I have no other thoughts than to play in the NHL. At worst, I may play in the AHL and show that I'll have a chance. I will not leave home without an honest attempt."

"It's a childhood dream come true."

Kubina Returns

Various media reports state former Bolt and original Lightning draft pick Pavel Kubina has signed a two-year free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kubina, a coveted right-handed defenseman, was a seventh round pick of the Lightning in 1996. He spent 1997-2006 with the Lightning, including the 2004 Cup year, before leaving for Toronto as a free agent. He was later traded to Atlanta, where he had six goals and 38 points last year for the Thrashers. Additional reports said the Thrashers and former Lightning GM Rick Dudley wanted to re-sign Kubina, but a deal was obviously unable to get done.

ESPN reports his two-year contract is worth $4.2 million next season and $3.5 million the following year for a $3.85 million cap hit.

Bolts Re-Sign Enforcer Mitch Fritz

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Mitch Fritz to a one-year, two-way contract, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Fritz, a 6-foot-7, 242-pound forward from Osoyoos, British Columbia, appeared in 73 games with the Admirals last season, scoring two goals and six points with a team-leading 157 penalty minutes.

Lightning Shore Up Net; Sign Dan Ellis for Two Years

TSN is reporting that Dan Ellis has signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, just two days after being acquired by the Canadiens from Nashville, for a contract is worth $1.5 million per year.

The Habs acquired the 30-year-old Ellis on Tuesday (along with forward Dustin Boyd and future considerations), sending Sergei Kostitsyn and future considerations to the Nashville Predators.

Ellis had a .909 save percentage and 2.69 goals against average in 31 games last season with the Preds. For Ellis, he will reunite with former Iowa Stars teammate and friend Mike Smith as the apparent goaltending tandem for the Bolts next season.

Lightning Extend St. Louis Four More Years

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed right wing Martin St. Louis to a four-year contract extension today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The contract locks up St. Louis through the 2014-15 season.

“Today is a great day for the Lightning organization,” Yzerman said. “Marty means so much to this franchise, both on and off the ice. His hard work and dedication are unsurpassed and we are thrilled that he will finish his career here in Tampa Bay.”

St. Louis, 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, is the Lightning’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals with 28. He is also second on the franchise list for games played with 703, goals with 263, assists with 396, points with 659, power-play goals with 76 as well as game-winning goals with 47. St. Louis is also the franchise leader in playoff goals with 23, points with 48, overtime game-winners with three and plus/minus with a plus-18. He is tied for the Tampa Bay all-time playoff lead for games played with 45 and game-winning goals with seven.

"Since coming to Tampa in 2000, the goals for my playing career have evolved," said St. Louis. "I have now enjoyed many team and personal accolades, the highlight being our 2004 Stanley Cup win.

"Now the goal is to lead the Lightning back towards the top of the NHL while finishing my career here. My family and I would like to thank Steve and Mr. Vinik for giving us that opportunity. I will not let them or our fans in Tampa Bay down. We'll do everything we can as a team to achieve at the highest levels again."

Bolts Deal Andrej Meszaros

TSN is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have traded defenceman Andrej Meszaros to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2012 second round pick.

Meszaros, 24, had six goals and 11 assists in 81 games with the Lightning last season.

This trade just ahead of the today's opening of free agency clears a significant long-term contract off the books for new GM Steve Yzerman is his reshaping of the Lightning roster. More details to follow.

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