Lightning Relinquish Rights to DeCoste, Sointu

With the June 1 signing deadline for 2008 draftees now come and gone, the Lightning have relinquished the rights to prospects Kyle DeCoste (Belleville, OHL) and Matias Sointu (Sudbury, OHL).

There was some question about Sointu's rights as he was drafted out of Finland, but Bolt Prospects confirmed with the Lightning that Sointu did indeed need to be signed by June 1 to retain his rights.

Lightning Inks Barberio to Entry Level Deal

According to a Twitter report from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed prospect defenseman Mark Barberio to an entry level contract. Details of the contract are not yet know, but the Lightning had until Tuesday, June 1 to ink the blueliner or he would have been eligible to return to this summer's NHL entry draft. The Lightning are under the same deadline to sign prospect forward Kyle DeCoste or lose him to the draft as well. Both players were drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry draft -- a draft class that includes forwards Steven Stamkos and James Wright, and goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

Barberio led his Moncton Wildcats to a berth in the 2010 Memorial Cup tournament as the QMJHL champion. Barberio scored 17 goals and added 43 assists in 65 regular season games for the Wildcats.

Helenius to Stay With Sodertalje Next Season

Hockey Expressen is reporting that the agent of Lightning goaltending prospect Riku Helenius, Jay Grossman, has announced the Finnish born former first round pick will play for Sodertalje in the Swedish Elitserien again next season. Helenius joined Sodertalje late last season and backstopped the club to a first place finish in the Kval till Elitserien, the annual promotion/relegation tournament. The move may be a positive for Helenius' development, as he is expected to be Sodertalje's starter next year and the Lightning already have a glut of Norfolk-bound goaltenders with Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus in the fold. Having Helenius in Sodertalje allows the Lightning the luxury of having him develop with plenty of starts in a premiere European league. Helenius is entering the final year of his entry-level deal with the Lightning.

Yzerman Introduced as Lightning GM

Former Red Wings superstar Steve Yzerman was introduced as the sixth general manager in Tampa Bay Lightning history this afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum. Yzerman stressed long-term success in his comments, focusing on providing an environment where coaches, trainers, players, and prospects can succeed year in and year out. Yzerman, who will oversee hockey operations, does not have a specific timeline for naming a head coach, but would like one in place by the start of free agency on July 1.

For discussion on Yzerman in Tampa, see the BoltProspects messageboard.

Official Press Release:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Steve Yzerman to be the team's Vice President, General Manager and Alternate Governor, Owner and Chairman Jeff Vinik announced today. Yzerman becomes the sixth general manager in Lightning history, bringing with him four Stanley Cup rings earned with the Detroit Red Wings as a player and executive as well as a Gold Medal, earned as the executive director of Hockey Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yzerman will report directly to Vinik.

We Love the Godfather

Gary Shelton had an article in the Tampa Tribune today interviewing former GM and Lightning founder Phil Esposito. For those who may not have read my blog post a year ago when the Lightning were reportedly thinking of moving Vincent Lecavalier prior to the draft, and Espo put his foot down in opposition to it, I am an absolute fan of The Godfather. When he speaks, you better damned well listen. So when I read that, "(Esposito) has talked about a role, perhaps as a consultant, with Vinik," I say you're a smart man, Jeffrey Vinik. Nobody knows this franchise better than Espo, nobody cares about this franchise more than Espo, and nobody is a better salesman for hockey in Tampa Bay, either. That man could sell a Mitsubishi to Lee Iacocca, and talk the CEO of Pepsi into putting a Coke machine in his lobby. He's that good, and while his time in the GM's chair may be past, he still has a lot more to give to this franchise, and I think he needs his name on the Cup one more time.

World Championships Game Day: 5-23-10

Gold Medal Match
Russia 1 @ Czech Republic 2
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 3-0-0, 0 SO, 1.00 GAA, .967 sv%

Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves and held Russia scoreless until a late empty-net goal by Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk as the Czech Republic stunned Russia 2-1 to win World Championships gold. Russian starter Semyon Varlamov had 23 saves in the loss. Russia gets the silver medal. The Lightning must now decide if they want to pursue the services of goaltender Vasily Koshechkin, who was 3-0-0 in the tournament for the Russians.

Bronze Medal Match
Sweden 3 @ Germany 1
Victor Hedman, Sweden, 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 9 GP, 1-1-2, +5, 6 PIM

Johan Harju, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 9 GP, 4-1-5, -1, 4 PIM

Oilers 1st round pick Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson scored his 5th goal of the World Championships and the Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves as Sweden defeated home country Germany 3-1 to secure the bronze medal. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman played 14:28 in the match and took a roughing minor late in the third period. Lightning prospect forward Johan Harju played 17:15, but was on the ice for Germany's lone goal by Alexander Barta. Both Harju and Hedman, obviously, are under contract to the Lightning and will be coming to training camp for the club in the Fall.

World Championships Game Day: 5-22-10

Sweden 2 @ Czech Republic 3 (SO)
Johan Harju, Sweden, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 8 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 4-1-5, E, 4 PIM

Victor Hedman, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 8 GP, 1-1-2, +4, 4 PIM

Karel Rachunek scored a goal with 8 second left in regulation to force overtime and Jan Marek scored the winning goal in the shootout to propel the Czech Republic to the World Championships finals over Sweden. Lightning prospect forward Johan Harju had Sweden's opening goal, a power play marker, and led Sweden with 8 shots on goal in 20:02 of ice time, the second highest ice time total of any Swedish forward. Unfortunately, Harju was on the ice for Rachunek's tying goal, which is the lone blemish in an otherwise outstanding game for the big power forward. Harju's goal was his 4th of the World Championships, which actually ties his goal scoring total of the entire regular season for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL. For Harju, who before this tournament was last seen leaving the ice injured in the second-to-last game of a disappointing first round playoff exit for Dynamo, this World Championships has reasserted the big forward's pedigree as a poor-man's Johan Franzen. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman played 20:25 in the match and was on the ice for a Czech goal by Tomas Mojzis. Sweden will play home country Germany in the bronze medal game tomorrow.

Russia 2 @ Germany 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, Win, 26/27, 1.00 GAA, .963 sv%
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 3-0-0, 0 SO, 1.00 GAA, .967 sv%

Russian coach Slava Bykov went with Lightning prospect goaltender Vasily Koshechkin in their semifinal match against home country Germany, and the 6'6" netminder did not disappoint as he remained unbeaten and untied in the tournament making 26 saves on 27 shots faced for the win. Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk scored the winning goal for the Russians with just 1:50 left in regulation to punch their ticket for the gold medal game against the Czech Republic. It will be interesting to see if the Lightning make any moves to sign Koshechkin at the end of the tournament, which will come to a close tomorrow. Ex-GM Brian Lawton reportedly had serious interest in bringing in the 2002 8th round pick next season.

World Championships Game Day: 5-20-10

Sweden 4 @ Denmark 2
Johan Harju, Sweden, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 3-1-4, +1, 4 PIM

Victor Hedman, Sweden, 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 1-1-2, +5, 4 PIM

Lightning forward prospect Johan Harju assisted on a goal by longtime linemate Linus Omark in support of Sweden's 4-2 Quarterfinals win over Denmark. Harju played 18:15 in the match and also took a minor for tripping. Lightning blueliner Victor Hedman played 15:00 in the match for the Swedes. He took a minor for slashing in the game. Sweden advances to play the Czech Republic in the semifinals.

Russia 5 @ Canada 2
Steven Stamkos, Canada, 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 2-1-3, E, 10 PIM

Steve Downie, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 18 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 2-0-2, +2, 28 PIM

Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 0 SO, 1.00 GAA, .969 sv%

Russia got a pair of goals by Evgeni Malkin and 3 assists from Ilya Kovalchuk as they stomped Canada 5-2. Lightning star Steven Stamkos played 14:53 in the match and took minors for boarding and hooking. Fellow Lightning forward Steve Downie played 10:47 and took minors for boarding and roughing before a chippy third period when he took minors for roughing, slashing, and a 10 minute misconduct for an altercation with Sergei Fedorov. Russia advances to play home country Germany in the semifinals. Canada's tournament is now over.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-18-10

Windsor Spitfires 4 vs. Moncton Wildcats 3 (OT)
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (holding)
Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Despite already clinching a spot in the tournament’s championship game, Windsor clawed their way back from a 3-2 third period deficit to force overtime and ultimately defeat the QMJHL champion Wildcats 4-3. With the loss, Moncton fell to 0-3. Their tournament and season are now complete. Barberio did not register a point in the round robin portion of the event, and the last picture of the Wildcats’ season will be a dejected Barberio standing in front of goaltender Shane Owen as Windsor celebrates in the background. Although the ultimate ending is now what Barberio envisioned, his team did win their league championship, he had a career year statistically, was a finalist for defenseman of the year, and led all blueliners in playoff points. He should have an NHL contract in his immediate future and projects to be playing defense for AHL Norfolk next season. Barberio has the offensive mindset and talent to be a successful pro. He’ll need a couple years honing his own-zone skills before flirting with a possible spot in the NHL.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had a goal and an assist in the game and played worthy of a prospect expected to go in the upper portion of the top-10 in this summer’s draft. Gormley Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, 0 PIM. Meanwhile, Windsor's Cam Fowler, a defenseman expected to be taken just before the Lightning pick, scored his first of the tournament in the Moncton game. He's 1-3-4 after three games.

World Championships Game Day: 5-18-10

Relegation Round
USA 3 @ Italy 2 (SO)
Mike Lundin, USA, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM

TJ Oshie scored the winning shootout goal for Team USA to complete a 3-2 win over Italy. USA went 3-0-0 in the Relegation Round, and will avoid relegation. Italy and Kazakhstan will be relegated in lieu of Austria and Slovenia in next year's World Championships. Lightning blueliner played 15:33 in the match for the Americans. Team USA's tournament is now completed. They finished 13th out of the 16 team field.

Qualifying Round
Slovakia 1 @ Germany 2
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, +3, 6 PIM

Vladimir Mihalik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 4 PIM

Lightning blueline prospect Vladimir Mihalik was on the ice for both German goals as the home team defeated Slovakia 2-1. Mihalik played 17:39 in the match. Lightning forward prospect Richard Panik played 8:51 for the Slovaks, whose only goal came from Marek Svatos. Slovakia's tournament is now over. They finished 12th out of the 16 team field.

Canada 2 @ Czech Republic 3
Steven Stamkos, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 2-1-3, +1, 6 PIM

Steve Downie, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 2-0-2, +2, 10 PIM

The Czech Republic got goals from Lukas Kaspar, Jaromir Jagr, and Jakub Klepis to defeat Canada 3-2. Lightning star forward Steven Stamkos returned from a concussion suffered against Switzerland to play 19:38 for the Canadians. He took minors for roughing and cross-checking in the match. Fellow Lightning forward Steve Downie played just 8:48. Canada will face Russia on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Russia 5 @ Finland 0
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-0, 0 SO, 1.00 GAA, .969 sv%

Russia got 1 goal and 1 assist from Maxim Afinogenov en route to a 5-0 thumping of Finland. Semyon Varlamov had a 36 save shutout in the match. Lightning prospect goaltender Vasily Koshechkin did not play. Russia will face the Canadians on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Switzerland 0 @ Sweden 5
Victor Hedman, Sweden, 1-0-1, +3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 1-1-2, +4, 2 PIM

Johan Harju, Sweden, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 3-0-3, +1, 2 PIM

Sweden got second period goals from Lightning contracted players Johan Harju and Victor Hedman on the way to an easy 5-0 win over Switzerland. Harju played 17:40 in the match while Hedman played 16:12. Harju's goal was his 3rd of the tournament after a disappointing KHL season where he scored just 4 goals all season for Dynamo Moscow. Sweden draws Denmark on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Among other Lightning prospects, Kirill Gotovets' Belarus finished the tournament in 10th and Martins Karsums' Team Latvia finished 11th.

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