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.
According to 620 WDAE the Tampa Bay Lightning will hold a press conference at 11 am this morning to announce the sale of the team, the lease rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and the surrounding properties.
New owners Absolute Hockey Enterprises, which includes as many as 10 principle owners, is led by former Florida Panthers coach Doug MacLean, Coral Springs real estated developer Jeff Sherrin and TV and movie producer Oren Koules.
The group has zero intention of moving the team and while MacLean will be CEO, Jay Feaster will remain general manager and John Tortorella coach.
For more, including news from today's press conference, see the Tampa Tribune.
Kevin Quick had one assist in the first of two intrasquad scrimmage games on Sunday at USA Hockeyâ€™s 2007 National Junior Evalation Camp in Lake Placid. Quick played on the USA Blue team which lost a squeaker to the USA White team 7-6 on Sunday.
USA Blue played USA White again Monday as a warmup prior to games with Finland and Sweden starting Tuesday. Team White beat Team Blue 4-3. The Game Boxscore hasn't been posted yet for the Monday game but you can check out a blog about the game at NHL.com.
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, Lightning winger Ryan Craig has been awarded a one-year deal worth $850,000 by an arbitrator. Erlendsson reports the number is $200,000 more than Tampa Bay was seeking and about $350,000 less than Craig was looking for. Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster told Erlendsson he will honor the contract and Craig will stay a Bolt.
According to the Mississippi Sea Wolves website, the club has signed forward Torry Gajda. The 24 year old winger split last season between Cincinnati and Pensacola of the ECHL scoring 11 goals and 33 points in 49 games with 65 penalty minutes in his rookie season of professional hockey. Standing at 5'9" and 190 lbs, Gajda is an alum of Providence College. Gajda's career season in college came as a senior in 2005-2006 when he potted 14 goals and 34 points in 36 games.
First off, Bolt Prospects apologizes for being down last night. Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties with the ISP that our server runs on that took about 12 hours to remedy. The site is up and running again now and we don't foresee any related problems in the near future.
Second, stay tuned to Bolt Prospects over the next few weeks as we are expecting to get a glimpse at the preliminary roster for the Traverse City prospect tournament pretty soon.
With all of that out of the way, the flurry of free agent signings that came in the first three weeks of July seems to have subsided. The team now has 47 players under contract that will count against the 50-man roster limit, with Ryan Craig remaining to be signed who will be the 48th. For the most part the roster is set, which offers the opportunity to speculate on how the Lightning's organizational roster and lines will look at the NHL, AHL and ECHL level.
The nominations are in and the list has been carefully whittled down to 21: The Bolt Prospects Lightning All-Time All-Dog team, a celebration of the very worst of the Lightning's first 14 years in the league. The rules were simple: no player whose rights are currently held by the Lightning could make the list (no need to poison present day morale) and only players with 10 or more games in a Lightning jersey could carry home the coveted silver dog dish. The competition was fierce, but in the end, the liquidy nasty stuff sank to the bottom.
Image Courtesy haggul.com
So without further adieu, the Bolt Prospects Lightning All-Time All-Dog Team, sponsored by former Chicago Blackhawks coach Alpo Suhonen and, of course, Michael Vick.