Rebels Trade Mihalik to Cougars

The Prince George Cougars are reporting the Red Deer Rebels have traded Tampa Bay first rounder Vladimir Mihalik to the Cougars in exchange for a 4th round Bantam selection in 2008. The move comes weeks after a writer for the [i]Red Deer Advocate[/i] speculated Rebels Coach Brent Sutter did not want the 6'8", 234-pound defenseman back with the team. Mihalik had 3 goals and 9 assists in 62 games last year with Red Deer, his first season in North America. Prince George was the recent home of Lightning first rounder (2004) Andy Rogers.

Jones: Helenius to Stay in Finland the Next Two Years

Tom Jones [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/26/Lightning/Feaster_keeps_talking.shtml]reports in today's St. Pete Times[/url] that 1st round pick Riku Helenius is likely to remain in Finland the next two years fulfilling military and contractual obligations. Finland is among many nations worldwide that requires compulsory military service of their young adults. The requirements could slow Helenius' development as he is likely to be stuck for the next season behind Bruins prospect Tuukka Rask on Ilves' depth chart.

Quick Expected to Stay in High School

Erik Erlendsson [url=http://www.tbo.com/sports/lightning/MGBRQLG4WOE.html]reports in tomorrow's post mortem of the Lightning's 2006 NHL Draft[/url] that 3rd round pick [url=kevin-quick]Kevin Quick[/url] is expected to stay at Salisbury Prep in Connecticut and play one more year of high school hockey before moving on to college. Quick was selected in the 18th round of the USHL Entry Draft by the Green Bay Gamblers, but it appears he will not make the move to the American junior league. There could be consequences to the decision developmentally. In high school, Quick will play less than 30 games at a level of play below that of the USHL. With Green Bay he could play over 60 games in a league where a good number of the players are destined to move on to the NCAA ranks. In the Trib article, Jay Feaster expresses the Lightning scouting staff's opinion that Quick may be the best skater in this draft, an opinion that is not to far off from Red Line Report's glowing description of his speed, agility and balance. Quick is rumored to be a recruiting target of several top college teams including Boston University and New Hampshire in Hockey East and North Dakota and Minnesota of the WCHA.

CHL Import Draft Set for Wednesday

The story of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft isn't over yet, because the CHL has yet to hold their annual Import Draft. The two Europeans selected by the Lightning in Saturday's draft, [url=riku-helenius]Riku Helenius[/url] and [url=denis-kazionov]Denis Kazionov[/url], could be selected and choose to play junior hockey in Canada's season. In Helenius' case, such a choice might be an important one in his development with Tuukka Rask likely to stifle any opportunities for playing time at the SM-liiga level in the Ilves organization in Finland. For Kazionov, a selection in Wednesday's Import Draft could be an intriguing opportunity for him to further a potential NHL career in ways his older brother did not when he had the chance. In 2002, Dimitry Kazionov was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL but chose to remain in Russia where he has struggled to get more than 4th line minutes in the Superleague, thereby stunting his development as a player. Could young Denis learn from Dimitry's mistake? On a site related note, please be advised we have removed Dennis Packard, J.F. Soucy and Gerard Dicaire from the Prospects page in light of the Lightning's decision not to extend them qualifying offers. In Dicaire's place in the top-25 rankings, where he was 25th, we have elevated [url=jay-rosehill]Jay Rosehill[/url] from the North American Minor Pro list. The four new prospects selected Saturday have been added to the Prospects page but we will not be integrating them into the top-25 rankings until the Fall when we release our 2006-2007 Preliminary Rankings. This will allow the prospects to have the opportunity to prove themselves within the framework of the Traverse City tournament and camp as well as the Lightning's training camp, thereby identifying their place in the organizational structure. We believe rankings produced any earlier would be premature. Also note, we have updated the Draft History page to reflect the results of yesterday's Entry Draft. We also will be updating the Draft History page over the summer to include career NHL games played and other basic statistics per site member Abbey's suggestion. This will allow for an at-a-glance analysis of the relative success of the Lightning's drafts over the past 14 years.

Lightning Say Good-Bye to 4

The St. Pete Times is reporting the Lightning did not extend qualifying offers to the following players: Center Martin Cibak (Tampa Bay), Forward J.F. Soucy (San Diego ECHL), Winger Dennis Packard (Johnstown ECHL), and Defenseman Gerard Dicaire (Springfield AHL). The move means all will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Offers were extended to Lightning players Cory Sarich, Evgeni Artyukhin, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Dimitri Afanasenkov. Their rights will be maintained. Cibak was not expected to be back as he split last season between the ice and the press box. With GM Jay Feaster saying he wanted a more physical fourth line that can provide offense, the writing was on the wall for Cibak. This opens the door for either Nick Tarnasky (physical play) or recently signed Eric Perrin (offense) to step in. Both will compete with Tim Taylor for the third line spot, also. Soucy fell out of favor with the organization last season and was loaned out to multiple ECHL teams. Packard, a monster of a forward, never found his game after graduating from Harvard, and Dicaire, a promising young defenseman who almost made the Lightning squad out of junior, unfortunately had to battle injuries, ailments, and Lightning affiliate challenges in his young career.

Dane Crowley

[b]Name: Dane Crowley Position: Defenseman Shoots: Right Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 lbs Born: 1/22/87 Acquired: 2006 Entry Draft, 6th Round, 168 Overall[/b] [b]Junior Career[/b] Dane Crowley began his junior career in 2003-2004 in the Saskatoon Blades organization after going undrafted in the WHL Bantam Draft. Crowley played 28 games with the Blades as a 16 year old rookie scoring 1 goal and 4 points with 28 penalty minutes and a -9 rating. The following season, Crowley's draft year, he scored 1 goal and 4 points in 52 games with a -8 rating and 101 penalty minutes. Unfortunately, Crowley went unranked by the NHL Central Scouting Service and undrafted in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The following season Crowley was traded at midseason to the Swift Current Broncos. In total, Crowley had 1 goal and 21 points in 71 games between Saskatoon and Swift Current with a -15 rating and 149 penalty minutes. The performance was sufficient to impress the Lightning who selected Crowley in the 6th round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In the Fall of 2006 Crowley attended the Lightning's prospect development camp and his first Traverse City tournament with the Lightning where he had 3 assists in 4 games. Crowley earned a spot in the full Lightning training camp with his play but was returned to Swift Current in the early wave of cuts. Crowley established himself as the blueline anchor of the Broncos power play in 2006-2007 before being dealt to contending Everett at midseason. In total, Crowley scored 8 goals and 38 points between Swift Current and Everett to go with 124 penalty minutes in 62 games. Crowley also had 3 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 12 playoff matchups for the Silvertips. [b]Professional Career[/b] The Lightning will wait until the Traverse City prospect tournament in the Fall before making a decision whether or not to sign Crowley for the 2007-2008 season. Given Crowley was a year overage when he was drafted, a signing would make sense but the Lightning don't face a deadline on the matter until the summer of 2008. [b]Talent Analysis[/b] [i]Pros: Crowley has good size and mobility and has proven his toughness and mettle in the extremely physical WHL. Over the last couple of seasons he's also shown the ability to run a power play at the junior level. Cons: As a late bloomer, it's difficult to judge whether Crowley's recent development is a function of his advanced age and experience level in the WHL. It's also difficult to project whether Crowley will sustain his development at the next level for many of the same reasons.[/i] [b]Future[/b] After flying under the radar for much of his career, Crowley's true upside isn't as easy to peg as other more scrutinized prospects. With some grooming in the Lightning's farm system it is conceivable that he could well develop into a third pairing NHL defenseman. [i]Statistics Courtesy [url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=74648]hockeydb.com[/url][/i] [i]Profile Created 2/21/07 by Pete Choquette[/i]

Draft Tracker

[b]Here are the first 15 picks of the first round:[/b] 1. St. Louis: D Erik Johnson, USNTDP (US) 2. Pittsburgh: C Jordan Staal, Peterborough (OHL) 3. Chicago: C Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (WCHA) 4. Washington: C Nicklas Backstrom, Brynas (SWE) 5. Boston: C Phil Kessel, Minnesota (WCHA) 6. Columbus: C Derrick Brassard, Drummondville (QMJHL) 7. New York (I): RW Kyle Okposo, Des Moines (USHL) 8. Phoenix: C Peter Mueller, Everett (WHL) 9. Minnesota: C James Sheppard, Cape Breton (QMJHL) 10. Florida: C/W Michael Frolik, Kladno (CZE) 11. Los Angeles: G Jonathan Bernier, Lewiston (QMJHL) 12. Atlanta: C Bryan Little, Barrie (OHL) 13. Toronto: C/W Jiri Tlusty, Kladno (CZE) 14. Vancouver: RW Michael Grabner, Spokane (WHL) [b]15. Tampa Bay: G Riku Helenius, Ilves Jr (FIN Jr)[/b]

Jones/Times Mention Three Potential Picks

Work on a deal for a starting goaltender continues [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/24/Lightning/Goalie_still_tops_Lig.shtml]according to this morning's article by Tom Jones in the St. Pete Times[/url], but don't expect the Lightning to go for a goaltender or a defenseman with their top draft choice. Instead, Jones mentions Cape Breton's James Sheppard, Vasteras' Patrik Berglund and Barrie's Bryan Little, all forwards, as potential choices for the Lightning. Interesting note: the Lightning's draft list is apparently only 80 players deep this year because the club is only looking for players which meet their high character standards.

Sports Forecaster Mock Draft

I've decided to link this one since it is one of the very few mock drafts that has a solid rationale behind it rather than knee jerking for a goaltender. [url=http://www.forecaster.ca/tbo/hockey/extras.cgi?2006-nhl-draft-mock]Canada's Sports Forecaster service has the Lightning selecting Cape Breton power forward James Sheppard[/url] with the #15 pick. Red Line has compared the left winger to a young Kirk Muller.

Lightning to Acquire Denis and Move Up??

The Columbus Dispatch [url=http://www.dispatch.com/bluejackets/bluejackets.php?story=dispatch/2006/06/23/20060623-F6-04.html]is reporting two rumors surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus goaltender Marc Denis.[/url] The first scenario, which appears bogus, has the Lightning moving Ruslan Fedotenko, John Grahame and a 2nd round pick for Denis. Grahame, of course, is an unrestricted free agent and the Lightning don't have a 2nd round pick in this draft making the deal impossible. The second rumor involves the Lightning moving the #15 pick and Fredrik Modin to Columbus for Denis and the #6 pick where, presumably, the Lightning would have many quality centers like Derick Brassard to choose from.
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