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Karsums Signs Two-Year Deal with Dynamo Riga

Latvian media outlet apollo.lv is reporting that Lightning forward prospect Martins Karsums has signed a two-year contract with Dynamo Riga of the KHL. Karsums was loaned to Riga during last season, and has had a somewhat protracted negotiation process this summer to formally sign with his hometown club. Karsums and Riga agreed last week to a letter of intent. Training camp for the 2010-11 season started today and will last until July 30.

Bolts Sign Pouliot; Hire Fleming as Assistant Coach

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed center Marc-Antoine Pouliot (MAHRK ahn-TWAHN poo-L’YAHT) to a one-year, two-way contract, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Yzerman also named Wayne Fleming to the position of assistant coach today. Fleming brings more than 30 years of coaching experience, both internationally and at the NHL level, most recently with the Edmonton Oilers.

"We are pleased to make Marc-Antoine a member of the Lightning organization today," said Yzerman upon making the announcement. "He fits the mold for the type of person we want on our roster and we look forward to seeing what he can show us in training camp this fall. He will add depth at the forward position and has a great chance to become a contributor in Tampa Bay."

"Wayne is a well-known person in the world of hockey," Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher said. "He has an extensive resume both in the NHL and internationally. Wayne brings new information, ideas and a wealth of professional and NHL experience. He is familiar with a number of our current players, having previously coached Lecavalier, St. Louis and others. I needed someone with experience as well as an open mind and he certainly fits that perfectly. I think he’s the perfect fit for our staff.

"Along with Daniel Lacroix and Martin Raymond, there are three key traits that these three gentlemen have in common. They care about people, they have tremendous enthusiasm and their work ethic is unsurpassed."

Lightning Elect Not To Retain Norfolk Coach

(Norfolk Admirals press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have elected not to retain Norfolk Admirals head coach Jim Johnson or organizational goaltending coach Cap Raeder, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Yzerman and Assistant General Manager Julien BriseBois will begin the search process to replace both coaches right away.

"We’d like to thank both Jim and Cap for their service to the Lightning and Admirals organizations," said Yzerman in making the announcements. "As we continued to the assess the coaching situations for the two teams, we elected to move in a different direction with both of these positions. We wish both men all the best as they move forward."

Lightning Name Lacroix and Raymond Assistant Coaches

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have appointed Daniel Lacroix (lah-CWAH) and Martin Raymond (RAY-moh, mahr-TEHN) to the position of assistant coach today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The pair served as assistant coaches under Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League last season, where they helped lead the team to 52 wins and 115 points, the second-best record in the AHL.

“Daniel and Raymond are two very smart and hard-working coaches,” Boucher said. ”They are an excellent compliment to me and are outstanding one-on-one coaches. I have total confidence in them and they know how I work, what I do, my philosophy and my values. Because they know me and the way I work we already have a head start in terms of chemistry.”

Bolts Acquire Gagne from Philadelphia

The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired winger Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Matt Walker and a 4th round draft pick. Gagne waived his No Trade Clause to join the Lightning from the cap-strapped Flyers.

“In adding Simon to the Lightning today, we acquire a very talented player that will play along side our top forwards,” said Lightning GM Steve Yzerman upon making the announcement. “With his combination of speed and skill we are excited to have him with us and grateful he was willing to waive his no movement clause. This trade not only makes us a better team in the short-term, it helps create long-term flexibility for us, which all along has been one of our top priorities.”

“I’m very excited right now,” Gagne said in a team release. “I’m looking at this opportunity as a new challenge and a new start. Tampa Bay was a team I was more than willing to waive my no move clause for. I really like the direction the team is headed in with a solid owner, Steve Yzerman as GM and Coach Boucher. I’m really looking forward to playing with guys like Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis. I’m excited to be a member of the Lightning and I’m looking forward to starting next season in Tampa Bay.”

In the past two months, Yzerman has dumped a $5.7M cap hit over the next three years on Philadelphia, while adding a 2012 second rounder (for Meszaros) and a much-coveted top-6 forward.

If Gagne can stay healthy - a big if - the Lightning's top-6 forwards are as good or better than most teams' in the league. Yzerman will no doubt spend the remainder of the offseason plugging in affordable holes in the bottom-6 and at the back of the defense.

In terms of prospects, in the short term, this means one of Matt Lashoff, Vladimir Mihalik, and Matt Smaby - all waiver eligible - could slot in as the No.6.

Also, the chances of Brett Connolly or Carter Ashton being rushed and getting a top-6 job just went from mediocre to very low. Ashton has the ability to excel as a third line forward, but with Dana Tyrell and James Wright perfect for that role, along with Johan Harju, it hardly seems necessary. Teddy Purcell and recently signed Niklas Persson also are third line possibilities. Ashton can return to Regina if he fails to make the Lightning. He cannot play in the AHL.

Bolts Avoid Arbitration; Re-sign Thompson to One Year Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration with center Nate Thompson today, re-signing him to a one-year contract, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced this afternoon. The restricted free agent had been scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 22. It is reported the deal is a one-way contract worth $625k, the one-way contract being the important piece Thompson was pursuing with a possible arbitration ruling.

"We are pleased to get Nate signed to his contract today, thereby avoiding the arbitration process," said Yzerman upon making the announcement. "He will add depth up front for us and getting the contract signing behind him allows Nate to focus on conditioning and preparations for training camp. We are happy to have him back."

Thompson, 6-foot, 207 pounds, played in 32 games with the Lightning last season after being claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders on January 21, 2010, recording a goal and four points. He also stood out in the face-off circle, winning 219 of 385 draws taken (56.9 percent). Before joining the Lightning Thompson had registered a goal and six points with 39 games with New York.? Between Tampa Bay and New York he set career highs for assists with eight, points with 10 and tied his career high with two goals.

Lightning Re-sign Paul Szczechura

(Norfolk Admirals press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, re-signed center Paul Szczechura to a one-year contract today, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Szczechura, 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, played in a career-best 52 games with the Lightning last season, recording five goals, also a career high, and seven points. He also averaged 13:05 in ice time per game and ranked fifth on the team among forwards with 30 blocked shots.

A native of Brantford, Ontario, Szczechura has played in 83 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay, recording nine goals and 16 points with 134 shots on goal. He made his NHL debut in 2008-09, skating in 31 games with the Lightning while averaging 13:33 in ice time. That season Szczechura recorded four goals and career highs with five assists as well as nine points.

Lightning Name Julien BriseBois General Manager of the Norfolk Admirals

(Norfolk Admirals press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have named Julien BriseBois as Assistant General Manager of the Lightning and General Manager of the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. BriseBois will become the fifth General Manager in AHL Admirals history.

BriseBois (pronounced “BREES-bwah”) will report directly to Yzerman and assist him in all aspects of contract preparation and negotiation, salary arbitration and player transactions for the Lightning and the Admirals, while also managing interpretation of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement and the salary cap for Tampa Bay.

Karsums Nearing Contract with Dynamo Riga

Latvian media outlet Diena.lv is reporting that Bolt prospect forward Martins Karsums has signed a letter of intent with Dynamo Riga of the KHL.

Riga and Karsums have been locked in negotiations for much of the summer after Karsums finished the 2009-10 season with Riga, going 4-4-8 in 12 regular season games and 2-1-3 in 9 KHL playoff games. Karsums was loaned to Riga by the Lightning on January 17, 2010 and subsequently represented Team Latvia in the World Championships, scoring 3 goals and an assist in 6 WC games.

The 5'10" and 198 lb winger was expected to formally sign with Riga this season after spending the bulk of last season playing for the Lightning's AHL affiliate in Norfolk. Karsums finished up the 2008-09 season with Tampa after being acquired at the 2009 trade deadline from the Boston Bruins along with Matt Lashoff for Mark Recchi, and seemed poised to earn a regular NHL roster spot for 2009-10 season.

Riga is also reporting that they have signed longtime NHL goaltender Manny Legace, and have previously signed Lightning prospect forward Juraj Simek to a training camp try-out agreement.

Bolts Re-sign Blair Jones

According to capgeek.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed prospect forward Blair Jones to a 1 year, two-way contract. The numbers on the contract indicate that Jones may have accepted his qualifying offer, as the contract is identical to his 2009-10 deal with the exception of the mandatory 10% raise for RFA's making less than $1M.

Jones is entering his 5th year as a pro, and with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman publicly stating a main focus to revamp the Lightning bottom two lines, Jones' fierce forechecking style may very well earn him a roster spot out of camp. The 6'3" and 215 lbs forward was a 4th round pick by the Bolts in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and has been on the cusp of earning an NHL roster spot for the last two seasons.

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