James Wright's wake-up call came from NHL teams hitting the snooze button on him at their entry draft.
Wright, a Vancouver Giants centre, may be a pro-level skater already and that led to speculation that he could have been a second-rounder this past summer. That speculation, too, led to him attending the festivities in Ottawa with his family.
Wright, 18, has also had an up-and-down first two years with the Giants, thanks to an inconsistent battle level. NHL teams looked at that most of all, as he wasn't picked until the end of the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune published the Lightning's Traverse City Prospects Tournament roster today. And while Steven Stamkos is a glaring omission from the roster, it is composed mostly of 2007 and 2008 Lightning draftees including Finnish forward Matias Sointu. Recently acquired top defensive prospect Ty Wishart highlights the roster that also includes six free agent invitees and two Norfolk Admirals free agent signees. Five of the six free agent invitees are from the WHL, including Tri-City's surprisingly undrafted Kruise Reddick and Tyson Barrie's and Torrie Jung's Kelowna teammate Lucas Bloodoff.
There's one more unconfirmed player whose name has yet to be released.
Norfolk Free Agent Signees
Free Agent Invitees
For Mitch Fadden, September will be the month that decides where he spends the next year. As the Lethbridge training camp begins, Tampa's 2007 4th round pick is still without a pro contract from the Lightning. After attending the Bolt's Prospect Camp in Victoria, BC last month, the Lightning still want to see more of Fadden before making a decision on where he spends the 2008-09 season.
In talking with the Lethbridge Herald, the WHL's sixth leading scorer was upbeat about the start of the Hurricane's camp, â€œItâ€™s business as usual, everyone is excited to get back on the ice and weâ€™re ready to start the season.â€
The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have acquired restricted free agent defenseman Andrej Meszaros from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defensemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard along with the 2009 1st round pick the Bolts acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Dan Boyle trade.
Rumors had been swirling for the past two days about Meszaros' future with Senators since Ottawa GM Brian Murray declared an impasse in negotiations to get the restricted free agent resigned. His three-year entry level rookie contract expired this summer, but was unable to agree upon a contract extension with Ottawa. TSN is reporting that it expects Meszaros will sign a 6 year, $24M contract with the Lightning.
The Ottawa Sun is citing sources that have told the newspaper that Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have told the Senators that they intend to pursue unsigned restricted free agent Andrej Meszaros if the Senators does not deal him to Tampa. The Hockey News reported a rumor yesterday that an undisclosed team had signed Meszaros to an offer sheet exceeding $5M per year despite a denial by league officials that any formal offer sheet had been filed with the NHL.
Ottawa Senators GM Brian Murray has declared an impasse in negotiations with the 3rd year blueliner who's three-year rookie contract expired this summer. Murray has said that Meszaros has refused a number of multi-year offers in the neighborhood of $3.5M per year.
The Fargo Force have announced they have selected Tampa's 2008 6th round pick Luke Witkowski to join the roster of the USHL's newest team for the 2008-09 season. The 6'2", 200 lbs. defenseman has signed a letter of intent with Western Michigan University of the CCHA having deferred enrollment until the 2009-10 season. Witkowski became a free agent in May after the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL ceased operations for the 2008-09 season after just two years.
Witkowski, a big blueliner known for his skating agility and speed, will be coached in Fargo by former University of North Dakota head coach Dean Blais who led the Fighting Sioux to two NCAA national championships over the course of a decade at the helm. Blais, known for his up-tempo offensive style, seems to be a good fit for Witkowski's offensive potential. Blais also coached Bolt prospect Matt Smaby and recent Lightning signee Brandon Bochenski during his tenure at UND.
From the message boards:
Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic is reporting veteran NHL forward Tyson Nash will attend Lightning training camp next month on a tryout. Nash last played hockey in Japan for the Nippon Paper Cranes. In 374 career NHL games, Nash has scored 27 goals and 64 points with 673 penalty minutes.
Today's edition of the Winnipeg Sun has an expose on the rise of Winnipeg native Mike Butters from a struggling LA actor to the new GM of the AHL's Norfolk Admirals.
Butters wound up with bit parts in Saw and some of its sequels (including Saw V, which comes out in October), and a not-so-bit part with Koules's new hockey toy, the Junior A Helena Bighorns. Acting as league commissioner, team co-owner and associate coach -- with stints as play-by-play man, radio commercial voice, even program-stuffer -- he learned the ropes of running a franchise, top to bottom.