Springfield AHL's Most Improved Team?

Canoe.ca columnist Patrick Williams gives his list of offseason winners and losers in the AHL and Springfield not only comes out in the "winners" category, but Williams suggests the Falcons may be the league's most improved team. Williams cites the potential additions of defensemen Andy Delmore and Doug Janik, as well as center Eric Perrin as reasons for Falcons fans to be optimistic this year. Williams also mentions Johan Holmqvist as a possibility, but it is doubtful the Swede will be in Springfield to begin the year.

R-2 Headed for Holdout?

Erik Erlendsson of the [i]Tampa Tribune[/i] reports today that negotiations are not going well between the Lightning and restricted free agent winger Evgeny Artyukhin. "I'm not sure what his thinking is right now," Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster told the [i]Tribune[/i]. "Some of the things his agent has told us are very inconsistent with his role and bargaining position." "R-2," or "Arty" as he's called by his teammates, is projected to have a significant role in the Lightning's future, but struggled at the end of last season and saw his minutes fall considerably. He finished the year with four goals and 13 assists in 72 games. In the playoffs, Artyukhin was up to just over 8 minutes a game and added a goal. Artyukhin is the only member of the Lightning yet to be signed, and it doesn't appear that will happen any time soon. Of note: The article also lists cap hits for every player currently under contract with the Lightning and expected to make the parent club.

NMU Coach: NHL Contract Could be in the Cards for Collins

Today, the [i]Arizona Republic[/i] published an article stating the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona, would finally be getting an ice rink. According to Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dusty Collins, Gilbert's favorite son, it's coming just a little too late as Collins was in town to prepare for this week's Lightning Prospect Camp but had trouble finding ice on which to practice. While the fact that Gilbert, Arizona may be getting an ice rink affects little to no one among Lightning prospect followers, the fact that the article sheds some light on Collins' future should. Collins, a 6-3 center for Northern Michigan University (NMU), was a surprise fifth round pick of the Lightning in 2004 because of his work ethic -- a prioritized ingredient for choosing who does and does not receive a contract offer for Tampa Bay.

Day 3 Scoring

Enter Stanislav: As if on Chad's cue, the young Slovak with 47 goals and 135 points in the Q last season decided to host his coming out party Thursday. Taking Blair Jones's opening faceoff and drawing a penalty by the returning Andy Rogers in :38, Lascek was granted the first of what would be many, many penalty shots/shootout attempts on this day. His first on Joe Pearce's blocker side would be deflected high into the glass. The next a teed up slapper thru traffic in front at 4:16 would make his water bottle dance. The Justin Keller - Blair Jones - Stanislav Lascek line continued to dominate the opening 30 minute period facing Andy Rogers - P.J. Atherton and the checking line of Todd Griffith - David Desharnais - Ryan Gibbons. Alexandre Imbeault the surprise scratch.

Bolts Sign Sarich, Avoid Arbitration

Tampabaylightning.com is reporting the Lightning have re-signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a one-year, $1.9 million contract. The deal allows the Lightning and Sarich to avoid a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for July 31. Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster stated in the official press release that Sarich left some money on the table in order to fit into the team's stretched financial structure. Sarich, 27, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan played in all 82 games for the third consecutive season in 2005-06, recording a goal, 14 assists and 79 penalty minutes. In 2003-04 he was one of three defensemen to appear in all 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Lightning.

Day 2 Prospect Camp Observations

First a little more info on the scoring. Goal 1 - Woolger picked up a loose puck inside the red line and quickly fed Fuller all alone. He Ramo stayed in net and Fuller roofed a wrister. This was the first shot Ramo faced. Goal 2 - Griffith pick up a loose puck (in the slot I believe) as everyone was trying to clear the zone. Took it in on Disher and beat him low. This was a goal I was preoccupied during, so the description is a little hazy. Goal 3 - This goal was made by Keller. He was tenacious behind the net just to Ramo's right. He finally controlled it enough to throw it in the slot to Lascek. Lascek had a good look to shoot, got an average shot off and Ramo kicked it with his right pad. Jones was the only one to Ramos right and slid the puck in the corner of the net.

Day 2 observations

My impressions from today. Came a bit late, but this is what I gathered from the roughly 35 minutes of action I saw: Didn't see much of Ramo. But he takes up a lot of the net like Gobolt56 noticed yesterday. Side to side movement looked ok. I wish the errands I was running wouldn't have taken so long because he's one of the guys I really wanted to see. Mihalik did not look bad today as the reports stated yesterday. I thought he did a real good job of eliminating guys along the boards. Made a nice pass late in the scrimmage to set up a chance. Took out one prospect and the ref in one hit along the boards. I liked what I saw today from him today. I think he has some good potential if he can improve his skating.

Day 1 Prospect Camp Observations: Forwards

I'll admit I spent much more time watching the goalies and d'men than the forwards, but I tell about what I saw. The top performer was Desharnais, the most opportunistic was Croxton. The top line was Kvapil, Lawrence, Smolenak, although only Kapvil touched the score sheet during a partial line change. Smolenak - Looks like Affy. Good size, filled out, strong on his skates, shows some offensive skill that will tantalize us. Will he score in the show or be a 3rd liner? Should see at somr point this year. Kvapil - Almost fully mature looking. Looks bigger than was led to believe. Easy E's article mentioned he has bulked. Attacked the net well.

Day 1 Prospect Camp Observations Defensemen

I'd agree with the experts, there appears to be a good core that will one day play in the NHL. Having followed this team since the beginning I've seen a lot of young ones. At this age it can be hard to judge this group. There are none with Hamrlik type skills, but who will be Kubina's and Ranger's vs. Bannister's and McBain's? My impressions based on today: Rogers - Looks like Ranger minus the puckhandling. Is playing solid positionally and defensive minded. Seems he could adapt in 5 - 10 NHL games like Ranger did. Does have an injury history and lacks some experience accordingly. I think he'll impress

Erik Erlendsson Blogs Prospect Camp

Echoing many of the sentiments of Bolt Prospects blog writers today, Erik Erlendsson of the Trib [url=http://sports.tboblogs.com/index.php/sports/related/C189/]has posted some of his comments on the first day of prospect camp.[/url] In general, there were some very positive notes made by Erik today:
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