Preseason games are finally underway throughout Europe with most teams participating in preseason tournaments and individual preseason games.
Last Tuesday, Andreas Holmqvist made his debut for his new club Frolunda on the team's first pairing in a 3-2 win over Djurgardens. Holmqvist assisted on the game's opening goal by Niklas Andersson. Frolunda is one of several teams from Sweden and Finland vying for the Nordic Trophy.
Johan Harju's club Lulea got underway last Friday in a 4-4 tie against Brynas. No box score was available from the game. Lulea dropped a 3-2 match to Sodertalje the following day. Again, no box score was available.
So, although details aren't readily available from overseas, it is clear that hockey season has indeed arrived.
The Mississippi Sea Wolves have announced the signing of enforcer Bill Kinkel. The 23 year old left winger split last season between Florida and Utah of the ECHL scoring 6 goals and adding 167 penalty minutes in 47 games. Originally a 9th round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Kinkel has one full season of AHL experience on his resume having played 56 games for Houston in 2005-2006 scoring 3 goals, 6 points, and racking up 190 penalty minutes. The 6'5" 239 lbs. forward played his junior hockey for Kitchener and Kingston of the OHL. His career season came in his final year of junior in 2003-2004 for the Frontenacs when he had 12 goals and 23 points with 174 penalty minutes in 62 games.
It has been brought to my attention in the last couple of days by BP reader Freadrich43 that my understanding of the August 15th signing deadline for NCAA players has been incorrect. I had been operating under the impression that NCAA players leaving school did not have to be signed until August 15th of the year after they graduated. This, as it turns out, was incorrect and I thank Freadrich43 for bringing it to my attention. An NCAA prospect must be signed by August 15th of the summer following their graduation for their rights to be retained by the NHL club.
Site rules are that only players whose rights are held by the Lightning can be included on the Prospects page. That means that for the last year PJ Atherton was incorrectly included on the page. While this wasn't necessarily a catastrophic oversight considering Atherton played last season inside the organization under a minor league contract, we still strive for 100% accuracy. So, I apologize. The fault was mine.
The rule also will effect three other prospects who have been included on the Prospects page: Dustin Collins, Arthur Femenella, and Joseph Pearce. With Collins and Femenella both slated to appear for the Lightning in Traverse City at the start of September and likely to attend Norfolk Admirals camp later on in the Fall, I have been forced to decide what to do with them until their participation in those events are complete. The decision I've reached is to remove Pearce, who was not invited to Traverse City, from the page immediately and leave Collins and Femenella on until Bolt Prospects releases its Preliminary Rankings in early October. If neither receives an NHL contract by that time, they will be removed from the page as well.
Just to reiterate, I'm sorry. While it's not a huge mistake in the grand scheme of things, I know that our readers expect and deserve nothing less than complete accuracy. For the future, now that we have clarification on how the rule works, we will be sure to promptly and correctly update the Prospects page after an NCAA player graduates.
The Mississippi Sea Wolves have announced the signing of veteran fan favorite Travis Lisabeth. The 27 year old left winger played four seasons for the Sea Wolves before spending the last two with Edinburgh of the British EIHL and Columbus of the ECHL in 2005-2006 and Phoenix, Pensacola, and Cincinnati of the ECHL last season. The 6'0" 200 lbs forward scored 20 goals and 51 points in 60 games last season with 85 penalty minutes. Lisabeth's career season came in 2004-2005 with Mississippi when he scored 26 goals and 59 points in 70 games. He played his four year junior hockey career for Kitchener and Kingston of the OHL.
More on the eight forward invitees announced today for the Traverse City prospect tournament:
Erlendsson scooped us. Chad's going to be upset. A little.
In any event, Erik Erlendsson of the Trib has posted the Lightning's roster for the upcoming Traverse City prospect tournament. The team will include 8 free agent invitee forwards as well as unsigned recent college graduates Dustin Collins and Arthur Femenella. The tournament will be held between September 7th and 11th in Traverse City, Michigan.
Sadly, only three of the recent 2007 draftees will suit up for the Lightning in the tournament (Mitch Fadden, Torrie Jung, and Michael Ward). 2nd round pick Dana Tyrell will miss the tournament to participate with Team Canada in an upcoming international event while 3rd round picks Luca Cunti and Alex Killorn will miss the event because they would have to pay their way to attend in order to keep NCAA elligibility.
Bolt Prospects will have more on the tryout invitees later today.
The slow process of reassembling the Mississippi Sea Wolves continued today with the Wolves' acquisition of defenseman Matthew Deschamps from the Phoenix Roadrunners in exchange for financial considerations. Deschamps, 27, had 2 goals and 9 points with 94 penalty minutes in 2006-2007 split between Charlotte and Phoenix. The 6'0" 195 lbs blueliner is a graduate of the University of Maine. His career season in college came as a senior in 2004-2005 when he posted 1 goal and 7 points with 30 penalty minutes in 29 games. The trade may ultimately re-unite Deschamps with his former Black Bears teammate Mike Lundin who will find himself in a battle to make the AHL level with Norfolk once camp begins in the Fall. The two played together during the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons.
August 15th came and went quietly, and the Lightning did not sign prospect defenseman PJ Atherton. Despite scoring 5 goals and 29 points in 57 games as a rookie with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL, Atherton was a casualty of the Lightning's overwhelming defensive depth in the minor league system signed over the course of the summer.
With the Lightning losing Atherton's rights, he will be removed from the Top-20 on the prospect page. In his place, enforcer Brandon Elliot will be temporarily moved into the Top-20. Just a note to those wondering when the '07 draftees will be added to the rankings: Bolt Prospects policy is to wait until after the Traverse City prospect tournament and Lightning training camp before placing new draftees into the rankings. This allows new players to prove themselves in a competitive environment against their peers in the organization and allows for a more accurate set of rankings to be generated. Typically, Bolt Prospects has released its Preliminary Rankings around the first or second week of October, so expect an update containing the 2007 draftees to be published then.
NHL.com has a couple of articles out today regarding the Lightning's prospects. First up, John McGourty interviews General Manager Jay Feaster on the top prospects in the Lightning organization. Feaster gives his opinions on defensemen Matt Smaby, Andy Rogers, and Vladimir Mihalik, forward Blair Jones, and goaltenders Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius.
Next up Shawn P. Roarke interviews Helenius from the Team USA Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY. Helenius talks about leaving Finland behind to join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.
Lost in the shuffle of today's surprise sale announcement, the AHL released its 2007-2008 schedule. The Lightning's new farm team, the Norfolk Admirals, will start its season on the road against the Philadelphia Phantoms on October 5th. The Phantoms matchup kicks off the first of four games on the road which concludes with a fascinating October 14th matinee in Springfield against the Falcons. Norfolk's first home game is scheduled for October 19th when Binghamton comes to Norfolk for the first of back to back matchups at the Scope.
The full schedule can be found at TheAHL.com.