The signing comes as a surprising and unexpected move by Tampa as Helenius missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. It has been speculated that Helenius may be coming to North America this fall to play in Canadian juniors, and that signing him a year early will mitigate signing risks next summer in the event he has a breakout season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have named Mike Sullivan their new assistant coach effective immediately. Sullivan becomes the 12th assistant coach in franchise history, joining head coach John Tortorellaâ€™s staff along with assistant/goaltenders coach Jeff Reese, video coach Nigel Kirwan and strength and conditioning coach Eric Lawson.
"Mike Sullivan is a very bright, energetic, innovative and dynamic hockey coach," Feaster said. "He has experience as a head coach in the NHL and at the international level. Moreover, he was very successful as a head coach in the AHL. He has played professionally under Torts and he shares with John a belief in how to coach and develop players. We believe he is the ideal candidate to help John Tortorella get the best and the most out of our players.
By signing Lawrence, Tampa avoided losing his rights as he would have been eligible to re-enter the 2007 NHL Entry Draft on June 1 had he not come to terms with the Lightning.
UPDATE: (May 30) In the Russian newspaper, "Soviet Sport," another version of why Koshechkin's contract with the Lightning is unsigned was published.
It is rumored that Koshechkin wants to test himself at the training camp and sign the contract only after the camp if he will see by the results of the camp "enough possibilities for the career growth." As it was reported he wants to go to the camp without a contract with any team and after the camp he plans to sign a contract with Tampa or CSKA.
Anyway, those reports, no matter what is the truth if there is a truth in both newspaper notes, say that Koshechkin plans to try himself at least at the Lightning camp.
Both Tampa Bay newspapers are reporting the number of players at Lightning camp this fall in Brandon, Florida will shrink to around 26. This will leave out as many as 28 prospects, AHLers, etc.
Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster told the St. Pete Times the plan, which could be tweaked depending on free-agent signings, will allow more intense and targeted training. He also pointed to financial reasons for the decision, including putting more of the budget toward NHL payroll.
Times reporter Damian Cristodero, citing Feaster, reports in the article Tampa Bay will not hold a summer rookie conditioning camp, but will return to the Traverse City tournament this year "only because it already is committed."
While Sport-Express in Russia is reporting Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin plans to continue his career next year in the NHL and is "close" to signing a contract with Tampa Bay, the Lightning is saying not so fast.
Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster confirmed to Bolt Prospects (BP) the clubâ€™s strong interest to sign Koshechkin, but referred to the two sides even being in negotiations as â€œa bit of a stretch.â€
Apologies for the site's technical difficulties last night...
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting the Lightning have re-signed goaltender Johan Holmqvist to a 1 year deal. The contract is reported to be worth $1 million dollars and will offer Holmqvist the opportunity to prove himself as a #1 netminder in the NHL with the potential of a greater payoff next summer if he does.
Here's what we learned this week in communication with the Lightning:
2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius made a successful return from major shoulder surgery when he suited up for Finland at an Under-19 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. The Lightning was in attendance when the goaltender played his first game since early autumn, but Finland was on their heels all night and Russia scored two power play goals to beat Helenius and Finland 4-0. Finland didn't fare much better in Helenius' second game, a 5-1 loss to Sweden.
While the GAA may not look ideal for the first rounder, the Lightning said he played well. The important thing to look at here is he's playing again and is in good health. In fact, after missing nearly all the 2006-2007 season, a healthy Helenius is now working out twice a day.