The Springfield Falcons are reporting that the club has acquired defenseman Nick Kuiper from the Portland Pirates (AHL) in exchange for future considerations. The undrafted three year pro has split time between Manitoba (AHL) and Portland and the Augusta Lynx (ECHL) this season after spending two seasons with Norfolk (AHL) and a four year NCAA career with UMass-Amherst.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kuiper is a solid stay-at-home defenseman and will be reunited in Springfield with fellow Manitoba/Portland blueliner Joe Rullier, who was acquired by Tampa from Anaheim at the NHL trade deadline for Doug O'Brien. In his eighth AHL campaign, the veteran Rullier is a tough physical defenseman and should step into the Springfield top defensive pairing, while Kuiper may see his time split between Springfield and Johnstown.
I'd like to send out a big thanks to the whole BoltProspects.com community. Yesterday's NHL trade deadline broke a couple of records here at our modest little site -- a record 1,651 page views from 508 visits by 276 unique visitors. All single day records for BoltProspects.com. Certainly modest numbers by some site standards, but a proud moment for our little baby.
Again thanks for your continued support as we continue to strive to be your online source for Tampa Bay Lightning prospects, and as we partner with all of you to build a thriving online community.
You don't see this every day...
Everett 4-3 @ Prince George 6-2
Prince George and Everett played a doubleheader of sorts Tuesday night, first completing a suspended game from October, then playing their regularly scheduled contest.
The game between the teams in Prince George on October 28th, 2006 was called after 40 minutes of play due to damage to the ice at the CN Centre. The Cougars held a 2-1 lead over the Silvertips after the first two periods. On Tuesday night, four months later and with different players, Everett scored a "late" goal to send the October game to extra time, where the Silvertips won the game in a shootout, 3-2. Dane Crowley who was playing in Swift Current during the first two periods of this game, did not register a point for Everett in its conclusion. Vladimir Mihalik, who dressed for Prince George in October, did not register a point, but had 6 minutes in penalties -- 4 in the first two periods and 2 last night. Both players had even ratings. Everett technically dressed 25 players for this game, compared to Prince George's 23.
In the second game, Mihalik and the Cougars got revenge on the 'Tips, defeating the WHL leaders 6-4. Crowley won the individual battle on the scoresheet with Mihalik, earning 2 assists to Mihalik's 1. Crowley was even and Mihalik was plus-1 and both had 1 minor penalty.
Prince George has clinched a playoff spot and Everett, who has a one point lead on Medicine Hat for first overall in the league, has clinched the U.S. Division title and is 14 points up on Vancouver for the Western Conference's top seed.
Dallas is good.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 26 of 28 shots faced in the overtime loss. Brad Richards had the only Lightning goal, shorthanded, off assists from Eric Perrin and Paul Ranger. Dallas absolutely dominated the first 20 minutes of play before the final 40 turned into a heavyweight street fight with both teams creating huge surges of pressure.
First impressions of Shane O'Brien? Worth the price. His passing ability is outstanding and although he lacks scintilating acceleration, once he hits his stride he's amazingly fast for a man that size. If he gets indoctrinated into the Lightning system quickly and starts looking up for those long stretch passes and, at the same time, uses his speed to jump in and hold in pucks along the wall from the point in, he's going to start racking up assists.
The Lightning's hard earned overtime point moves them 2 points ahead of Atlanta in the division and 5 points ahead of Carolina which dropped their game with Ottawa tonight 4-2.
Dallas 10:59, Jere Lehtinen 22 (power play) (Jussi Jokinen, Mike Modano)
Tampa Bay 19:41, Brad Richards 23 (shorthanded) (Eric Perrin, Paul Ranger)
Dallas 1:35, Ladislav Nagy 10 (Mike Ribeiro, Philippe Boucher)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Lightning GM Jay Feaster completed two more trades before the NHL trade deadline on Tuesday, offically closing the books on Nikita Alexeev's second tour with the Bolts. The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Alexeev in exchange for winger Karl Stewart and a 2007 6th round draft pick. Alexeev was originally drafted by Tampa in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 2000 draft by former Lightning GM Rick Dudley. Dudley is currently serving as the assistant GM of the Blackhawks. Stewart, 23, is playing in his first full NHL season and is listed at 5'11" and 185 lbs. In a radio interview by WDAE 620 in Tampa, Feaster indicated that Stewart would bring energy and a physical presence to the lower lines, using his speed and hitting on the forecheck.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports in his blog that newly acquired Shane O'Brien was to take Doug Janik's spot in the lineup. However, with Nikita Alexeev traded to Chicago, Andreas Karlsson on injured reserve, and Andre Roy suspended, Janik is back in the lineup in order to dress 20 healthy bodies. Look for Janik to sit on Thursday when Karl Stewart and Jason Ward make their Lightning debuts.
NHL.com is reporting the Lightning have sent defenseman prospect Doug Oâ€™Brien to the Anaheim Ducks for AHL veteran defenseman Joe Rullier. The 6-3, 230 pound Rullier was part of the Brad Richards Rimouski Oceanic team that won the Memorial Cup in 2000. Rullier was drafted in the 5th round by Los Angeles in 1998 and was signed by the Kings following the Memorial Cup, but did not last with the club as he was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Rangers in the summer of 2005, then by the Canucks in the summer of 2006. In January 2007 he was sent by Vancouver to Anaheim for a prospect.
Rullier totaled a career-high 31 points (8 goals) in 67 games last year for Hartford and Manchester. This year Manitoba and Portland he has 2 goals and 10 points in 31 games. Rullier had a career high of 322 penalty minutes and a plus-23 rating two seasons ago for Manchester.
Doug Oâ€™Brien, a native of Newfoundland, played in 5 games for Tampa Bay last season, going scoreless. After finishing last year with 32 points in 74 games for Springfield, he was expected to be an impact 2-way defenseman for the Falcons, but has a relatively quiet 19 points (6 goals) in 53 games. Oâ€™Brien will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Rullier likely comes into the Tampa Bay system as the ninth defenseman and first re-call on the backline from Springfield.
Rullier career stats from hockeydb.com
Newly acquired defenseman Shane O'Brien was featured in his hometown paper, the Northumberland News (Port Hope, Ontario), today. O'Brien talks about the phone calls he received from Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermeyer upon being traded, as well as the fact the Lightning pursued him for a month before Jay Feaster was willing to give up a first rounder. He also reflects on his first NHL goal, off a pass from Teemu Selanne vs. Dominik Hasek of Detroit.
One of the quiet success stories from this season continues...