The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that Norfolk Admirals assistant coach Alan May has resigned his position effective immediately.
Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton has begun the search for a new assistant coach in Norfolk. He hopes to have the position filled by the end of next week.
May spent one year behind the Norfolk bench. The Barrhead, Alberta, native played 12 seasons professionally including 393 career NHL games between Boston, Edmonton, Washington, Dallas and Calgary.
BoltProspects has confirmed that Tampa Bay no longer retains the rights to prospect forward Justin Courtnall, the Lightning's last pick in the 7th round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Courtnall was drafted out of BCHL Victoria and normally would have to be signed two years after his draft date, but it was thought that the Lightning would retain his rights while Courtnall continues his hockey development at Boston University. It's unclear at the time of this report why the Lightning do not retain Courtnall's rights, but it is speculated that perhaps Courtnall is not attending BU on a scholarship and perhaps that is the reason why Tampa cannot retain his rights without a contract. BoltProspects will update this story as more information is revealed.
UPDATE: The loss of Courtnall's rights had nothing to do with whether or not he is on scholarship at BU, but solely because he was not already in an NCAA program when the deadline to sign 2007 draft picks passed.
BoltProspects confirmed today with the Tampa Bay Lightning that the Bolts have failed to sign prospect defenseman John Wessbecker before the deadline for signing NCAA graduated seniors expired. Wessbecker is now an unrestricted free agent and is able to sign with any team. The Victoria, MN native was a 7th round draft pick by Tampa in the 2005 NHL entry level draft and was a leader on the 2008-09 UMass hockey squad. The 6.02 and 198 lb. stay-at-home blueliner returned for his senior season after missing the last half of the 2007-08 due to injury, finishing his collegiate career with 2 goals and 10 assists in 123 games in 4 years for Don "Toot" Cahoon's Minutemen.
The passing over of Wessbecker seemed likely from clues earlier in the summer after Lightning GM Brian Lawton announced that Tampa would only carry around 40 contracts this upcoming season. Furthermore, the new Lightning management have succeeded in shoring up the Lightning blueline depth system-wide with a rash of acquisitions, free agent signing, and draft picks over the the past two off-seasons which made a Wessbecker contract even more unlikely.
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."