The Coloradoan is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Central Hockey League's Colorado Eagles have inked a minor league affiliation deal.
â€œYou can see a player that has the potential of playing in the National Hockey League being assigned to the Colorado Eagles,â€ Eaglesâ€™ president and general manager Chris Stewart said this evening. â€œIt gives us the potential of developing good young talent and hopefully provides us with a better opportunity to win a championship.â€
The Eagles won CHL titles in 2005 and 2007 and also played for the title in 2008 and 2009. Since Tampa also has an affiliate agreement with the American Hockey Leagueâ€™s Norfolk Admirals, players could be sent back and forth between all three franchises. Stewart said relationships between key personnel in the front offices made it a natural arrangement. Len Barrie, one of the Lightningâ€™s owners and the team president, is one of Stewartâ€™s former players, and the teamâ€™s director of player personnel, Jim Hammett, is Stewartâ€™s brother-in-law.
â€œRelationships are very important in any business, and thatâ€™s true in hockey, too,â€ Stewart said. â€œYou want to work with people you know well, and obviously I know those two gentleman extremely well.â€
"In acquiring Drew Miller today, we were able to add a character individual, a versatile player with good size and the ability to kill penalties," said Lawton upon making the announcement. "Drew finished the season nicely in Anaheim a year ago and he has played well for the Ducks in the postseason over his career. We'd like to thank Evgeny for his hard work in Tampa Bay and his diligence to improve as a player. We wish him all the best moving forward."
Miller, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, has played in 53 NHL games in his career, all with the Ducks. He has recorded six goals and 15 points in those games. Miller made his NHL regular season debut on October 6, 2007 and netted his first NHL goal on October 17, 2007. He has played in 16 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Anaheim, recording two goals and three points. He made his playoff debut in the 2007 NHL Playoffs, including Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Ottawa as Anaheim went on to win the Stanley Cup.
According to NHL.com, 2009 Lightning draft pick Jaroslav Janus, a goaltender out of Erie of the OHL, is participating in Slovakia's pre-Olympic camp this week. Janus, a 6th round pick this year by Tampa Bay, is unsigned at the moment, but can re-join the Otters as an overager next year or go to Russia if not signed for goaltending depth by the Lightning this summer. Janus was a second round selection of Lokomotiv Jaroslavl in this year's KHL junior draft.
Janus was named the top goaltender at this past World Junior Championships for Slovakia. In 2007-2008 he was named the Otters' Most Valuable Player. He went 25-20-4 with 3 shutouts this year for Erie with a 3.24 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Complicating matters for Janus this summer in regard to signing with the Lightning is the fact Tampa Bay no longer has an ECHL affiliate and prospects Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski are expected to man the nets in AHL Norfolk.
Other goaltenders at Slovakia's camp include Colorado's Peter Budaj, Montreal's Jaroslav Halak, and former Nashville Predator Jan Lasak.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract with Rick Wilson, naming him associate coach today, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. He will be looked upon to coach and groom the teamâ€™s defensive corps.
â€œWith 20 years of NHL coaching experience, we believe Rick is exactly what this club needs as an associate coach and we are excited that he has elected to join our staff,â€ said Lawton upon making the announcement. â€œAs our team develops, we will look to control the game from the blue line; Rick shares that philosophy, understands that concept and will teach our young defensemen to do just that. Additionally, his past relationships ensure he will fit seamlessly with head coach Rick Tocchet, assistant Wes Walz and goaltending coach Cap Raeder to give us a very cohesive staff which can lead our team to long-term success.â€
The Tampa Bay Lightning are reporting via Twitter that the Bolts have resigned restricted free agent defenseman Matt Smaby to a one-way, two-year contract avoiding a scheduled salary arbitration hearing next week. The team reports the contract pays Smaby $500k the first year, and 550k the second year. After starting the 2008-09 season in Norfolk, Smaby was recalled to Tampa amidst a rash of blueline injuries, playing the final 43 games of the NHL season recording 4 assists and 50 penalty minutes. Smaby has played a total of 149 AHL games with the Norfolk Admirals and Springfield Falcons accumulating 5 goals and 13 assists along with 139 penalty minutes.
Smaby, 24, was a 2nd round pick by the Lightning in the 2003 NHL entry draft out of Shattucks-St. Mary's high school in Minnesota before playing three years for the University of North Dakota Fightning Sioux where he captained the team to an NCAA Championship Finals appearance against the University of Denver. He was signed by Tampa on April 14, 2006 to a three-year entry level contract.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired left wing Todd Fedoruk and defenseman David Hale from the Phoenix Coyotes today in exchange for right wing Radim Vrbata, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.
"We are pleased to make a trade today that makes good sense for both teams," Lawton said upon making the announcement. "Lightning fans will be pleased to see we have added some size and toughness up front with Todd, while David helps us continue to add depth to our blue line. At the same time, Radim moves back to Phoenix where he has experienced some success in the past."
Confirming a story that broke earlier today, the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed prospect center Blair Jones and right wing Lauri Tukonen, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.
Jones, whose 3 year entry-level contract expired at the end of last season, finished as the Norfolk Admiralsâ€™ second leading scorer last season and was the only player to appear in all 80 games. The Lightning acquired Tukonenâ€™s rights from the Dallas Stars last November in exchange for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, set career highs with 20 goals, 34 assists and 54 points in 80 games for the Admirals last season. He ranked second in scoring, fourth in goals, second in assists and tied for second in power play goals (8) with Norfolk. He also established a new AHL Admirals franchise record with 271 shots on goal, ranking third in the American Hockey League. The 22 year old center has appeared in 155 games with the Admirals over the past two seasons, tallying 34 goals and 96 points. He ranks 12th all-time in AHL Admirals scoring and is just four points away from becoming the tenth player to record 100 points in his AHL Admirals career. Jones has appeared in 200 career AHL contests between Norfolk and the Springfield Falcons, recording 39 goals and 117 points. Jones was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round (102nd overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He has appeared in 24 career National Hockey League contests with the Lightning, recording one goal and three points.
Tukonen, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound native of Hyvinkaa, Finland, skated in 35 games in the Finnish Elite League last season. He scored five goals and 13 points in 21 games with Ilves Tampere while netting three goals and eight points in 14 games with Lukko Rauma. Originally drafted 11th overall by Los Angeles in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Tukonen, 22, has skated in five career games with the Kings (2006-07 and 2007-08). He has appeared in 185 career American Hockey League games with the Manchester Monarchs, tallying 36 goals, 103 points and 74 penalty minutes. Tukonen skated in three World Junior Championships for Finland from 2004-2006, collecting Bronze Medals in 2004 and 2006. In 2006, he finished third in tournament scoring with three goals and 10 points in seven games.
According to a transfer listing on eliteprospects.com, the Lightning have signed former L.A. Kings first rounder Lauri Tukonen to a one year deal. Tukonen was acquired from Dallas last November by the Lightning for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson. Tukonen played for Lukko and Ilves in his native Finland last year, totaling 8 goals and 13 assists in 35 games before injuring his knee. He traveled to Tampa last April to have the injury inspected by Lightning doctors. He was recently qualified as a restricted free agent by the Lightning. No official announcement of the signing has been made by Tampa Bay.
Update: No official press release has been publish by the Lightning yet, but the Club has confirmed the signings of both Tukonen and Blair Jones via the TBLightning twitter account.
Stephen Heisler over at the American Junior Hockey blog posted a great interview with Norfolk GM Mike Butters. Butters discusses his vast history starting and building hockey programs at different levels, and talks about some of the challenges with the Lightning farm system and his first year as the Admirals GM.