Lightning 2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius was selected by the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft today. Helenius, a 6-3 goaltender who missed practically all of last season with Ilves Jr. in Finland because of a shoulder injury, was taken with the 46th overall pick.
â€œWe spoke to Tampa Bay a year ago about adding Helenius to our team but the player was not ready to come at that time,â€ Seattle General Manager Russ Farwell said in a story on the Thunderbirdsâ€™ web site.
â€œThere is a good chance this year he could come over and we felt we would take that chance because this combination would give us the best 1-2 goalie combination in our division.â€
The Tampa Bay Lightning, parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have re-signed right wing Norm Milley to a one-year contract, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced on Tuesday.
Milley, a 6-foot, 195-pound native of Toronto, Ontario, served as team captain for the Springfield Falcons, the former American Hockey League affiliate of the Lightning, last season. The 27-year-old notched 26 goals and added 34 assists for 60 points in 73 games with the Falcons in 2006-07. He was tied for the Springfield lead with ten power play goals and finished second in scoring, goals and assists.
The Lightning traded a 2008 fourth round pick in order to grab Marshall at the end of the fifth round. He's regarded as one of the best skaters in the draft.
From the Patriot-Ledger:
(Is it possible to wait until the zamboni has left the ice before conducting the interview?)
â€œItâ€™s definitely the most exciting thing Iâ€™ve ever gone through,â€ Jung told the newspaper.
Jung is a native of Nanaimo, "The Harbour City," located on the west side of Victoria Island across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver in British Columbia.
The News Bulletin reported Jung was watching TV on Saturday when Tampaâ€™s chief scout, Jake Goertzen, called to tell him the news and offer congratulations.
Remind me next year to order Red Line three weeks before draft day instead of two...
Anyway, looking through Red Line's draft guide there are a lot of positives for the Lightning coming out of this draft. Here's how they had the picks the Lightning took rated and, where given, the short blurb about each:
#30 Dana Tyrell: "Love his speed, smarts, and competitiveness."
#54 Luca Cunti: "It's a team game, Luca. It's not all about you."
#62 Alexander Killorn: "Blazing fast playmaker. Stock rising like gas prices."
#100 Mitch Fadden: "Dynamic scorer should've been taken last year."
#160 Matt Marshall: "Bull in a china shop, but has no hands or finesse."
#207 Torrie Jung
#290 Michael Ward
NR Johan Harju
NR Justin Courtnall
The following video file is from the Prince George News cable television, and was shot pre-draft, post-combine.
Tyrell missed being the highest Cougar ever taken by about 12 picks. Blair Betts had him beat.
(Of interest: Some Vlad Mihalik  sightings on here, including once at the beginning where he dwarfs Tyrell , and once at the end with him standing moving into the crease on the PP)
As of right now, most signs point to college.
"I need some education," Cunti told USCHO. "I am talking to St. Cloud and Clarkson and a few others, but these two are now the most important. I just want to have some school, so I am thinking of school now."
Unless, of course, he's offered a pro deal.
Cunti said he'd know within two weeks which way he'll go, because "It depends on what [Tampa Bay] will offer me."
Entering the draft the Lightning's prospects of filling their organizational needs at forward looked so bleak the local media was printing stories that were already ratcheting down expectations. The team had no first round pick. It might not have had a second round pick if the Panthers had exercised the option they gained in the Chris Gratton trade. 2007 looked like a throwaway draft. Yet for some strange reason I actually had a good feeling about this draft because there were parallels to the 2002 draft. You'll recall in 2002, Jay Feaster's first draft as the head of the Bolts, the team dealt off its #4 overall pick in the controversial Ruslan Fedotenko deal and then dealt off a second round pick for defenseman Brad Lukowich leaving the team with a lone second round pick as their only selection in the first three rounds. And, like this year's draft, 2002 was panned as a poor draft class with the exception of the first 4 or 5 picks.
2002 was the finest hour of the Lightning's scouts during the Jay Feaster era even despite stubbing their toe with Adam Henrich with their first selection. They succeeded by outworking the rest of the league that day. Most of the other scouting staffs in the NHL were so sour on that draft class they didn't even want to deal with the later rounds of the draft. Carolina practically gave away a bundle of picks to the Lightning because there were no more players they wanted left on their list. And so the much maligned Lightning scouting staff crafted a working man's masterpiece almost entirely from round six on: Paul Ranger, Fredrik Norrena and Ryan Craig are all NHL regulars. Darren Reid has seen time in the league each of the last two seasons. Vasily Koshechkin is considered perhaps the best goaltending prospect in all of Russia. The team thought outside the box. They took overagers (Craig). They turned over rocks to find players (Koshechkin). They gambled on players who might not have played much during the year but had the skills and upside to warrant taking a flyer (Ranger). They haven't had a draft that good since.
Something about the challenge of making something out of nothing makes this Lightning staff rise to the occassion, and while I can't guarantee that the 2007 draft will pan out as well as that 2002 draft, there's reason to be very optimistic. The philosophy was different for this draft, but the work ethic wasn't and when Ottawa practically gave away a bundle of three picks for a spare 4th round pick today the comparisons to 2002 became even stronger. I liked what I saw today.
Lightning 2007 NHL Entry Draft Picks
C/RW Dana Tyrell, 5'10" 185 lbs, Prince George (WHL)
LW Luca Cunti, 6'0" 185 lbs, GCK (SUI NLB)
C Alexander Killorn, 6'0" 161 lbs, Deerfield (USHS)
C Mitch Fadden, 6'0" 174 lbs, Lethbridge (WHL)
C/RW Matt Marshall, 6'1" 175 lbs, Nobles (USHS)
LW/C Johan Harju, 6'3" 205 lbs, Lulea (SWE)
G Torrie Jung, 6'1" 170 lbs, Kelowna (WHL)
D Michael Ward, 6'2" 180 lbs, Lewiston (QMJHL)
LW Justin Courtnall, 6'3" 185 lbs, Burnaby (BCHL)
*=Lightning trade Dallas' 4th round pick (acquired in the Darryl Sydor trade) to Ottawa in exchange for picks #150, #183 and #210.
For Head Scout Jake Goertzen's comments on each pick, see the Tampa Tribune review.