Lightning Schedule Released

The NHL has released its regular season schedule and the Lightning [url=]will be opening October 5th on the road in Atlanta.[/url] The unbalanced schedule features a very Southeast Division heavy first month to the season which will include three matchups with defending champion Carolina and two matchups each with Atlanta and Florida as well as a game against Washington. The AHL's schedule is yet to be set, but the Springfield Falcons [url=]have already announced their home opener will take place October 20th.[/url]

Lightning Sign Richardson

The Tampa Bay Lightning [url=]have signed veteran defenseman Luke Richardson to a one-year $500,000 deal.[/url] Barring perhaps the trade of veteran netminder Sean Burke, Richardson appears to be the final piece in the Lightning's offseason makeover. The 37 year old blueliner has played 1,312 regular season games in his long NHL career. Last year he appeared in 65 games between Columbus and Toronto notching 1 goal and 10 points and logging 16:40 a game in ice time.

Looking Ahead to Next Summer

If you thought the Lightning were up against the 50-man limit this summer, consider how many decisions the Lightning will have to make next summer due to the convergence between the 2005 draft class, Europeans from the 2003 draft class, all unsigned Russians drafted in 2002 and earlier as well as graduating NCAA players. [b]2005 Draft Class[/b] D [url=vladimir-mihalik]Vladimir Mihalik[/url] C/LW [url=chris-lawrence]Chris Lawrence[/url] RW Marek Bartanus C [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url] G [url=kevin-beech]Kevin Beech[/url] [b]Europeans from the 2003 Draft Class[/b] RW Raimonds Danilics LW Albert Vishnyakov [b]Russians Drafted in 2002 or Previous[/b] LW Anton But LW/C [url=alexander-polushin]Alexander Polushin[/url] LW Dimitri Bezrukov C Vitali Smolianinov RW Ilya Solarev C/LW Dimitri Kazionov G [url=vasily-koshechkin]Vasily Koshechkin[/url] C Alexei Glukhov RW Pavel Sedov [b]Graduating NCAA Players[/b] D Arthur Femenella* G Joe Pearce* RW Dustin Collins* D [url=mike-lundin]Mike Lundin*[/url] [i]* The Lightning will have one year from their graduation date to sign these players.[/i] It is also expected that 2006 draftee [url=denis-kazionov]Denis Kazionov[/url] will be brought to North America along with his brother and because [url=dane-crowley]Dane Crowley[/url] was selected one year past his draft age the Lightning may be in a position to have to bring him into the fold as well. And then there's the matter of defenseman [url=pj-atherton]P.J. Atherton[/url] whose situation remains unclear. The Lightning hold his rights for one year after his graduation which, we think, means they have him until some time in May of 2007. The Lightning may have the Springfield Falcons sign him to an AHL contract and wait to see how he does in a full season of minor pro before making a decision. In the end, the Lightning may have to find spots for as many as a dozen prospects (although the number will more likely be seven or eight) next summer, meaning there will be some drastic house cleaning at the minor league level next summer. Prospects like [url=adam-henrich]Adam Henrich[/url], John Toffey and Brady Greco will have to have outstanding seasons in the minors just to get qualifying offers and avoid the fates of Gerard Dicaire, Dennis Packard and J.F. Soucy. Borderline prospects on the above lists, particularly Europeans like Albert Vishnyakov and Alexei Glukhov, will have to rise to the occassion this season if they are to take contracts away from more lauded (and more local to North America) prospects in the Lightning organization. 2006-2007 may not only yield the largest crop of summer prospect signees since the early expansion days of the franchise but it looks as if it will have some of the fiercest competition for contracts ever witnessed in team history. Let the cream rise to the top.

Chiefs Lose Kelly is reporting that Johnstown Chiefs leading scorer Justin Kelly has signed with EHC Olten of Switzerland. The center scored 31 goals and 71 points in 59 games last season for the Chiefs, 21 points more than second leading scorer Dimitri Tarabrin. [url=]According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat[/url], the team tendered offers to eight players: G Josh Disher, D Doug Andress, D Jim Hakewill, D Jake Heller, D Brett Peterson, D Ben Wallace, LW Jean Desrochers and C Brad Thompson. The Chiefs will maintain rights to the eight until August 1st. LW Randy Rowe, LW Joe Tallari, D Ian Manzano and LW Jason Spence remained in Johnstown during the offseason and are expected to return to the team.

Springfield Signs Three Including Boisclair

The Springfield Falcons are announcing the signing of three players this afternoon. Center Dan Cavanaugh returns to the Falcons, his hometown team, after a four goal, 19 point season with the club last season. Also, recently signed Lightning prospect Stan Lascek will be reunited with his Chicoutimi teammate Maxime Boisclair as the Falcons signed Boisclair and also Seattle Thunderbird winger Ryan Gibbons to standard AHL contracts. Boisclair was part of the Traverse City Lightning last September and returned to the QMJHL to earn First Team honors at season's end. Gibbons, a hulking 6-5 two-way winger, had 20 goals in 64 games for Seattle last season. All are Springfield contracts upon Tampa's recommendations.

Lightning Sign Doug Janik

The Springfield Falcons are reporting the Lightning have signed former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Doug Janik to a two-way contract. Janik scored Buffalo's first goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Carolina and logged more than 16 minutes of ice time. The Falcons Press release, quoting Tampa GM Jay Feaster, stated:

Fedotenko Signs

TSN is reporting the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed Ruslan Fedotenko to a one year contract worth $1.65 million to avoid arbitration. Fedotenko had a career-high 26 goals last season playing mainly with Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal.

Norm Milley Re-signed reported earlier this morning that left winger Norm Milley re-signed with the Lightning. The Springfield Falcons have since confirmed the signing. The deal was reported as a 1 year, 2-way contract at the league minimum of $450k. Milley had two goals and three points in 14 games with Tampa last year. His abscence from the Falcons during that time was felt in Springfield as the AHL club struggled without his leadership and on-ice presence. With the Falcons, Milley had 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points in 53 games. "We are very excited to have Norm Milley under contract for the upcoming season," Tampa GM Jay Feaster said. "During the 2005-06 campaign Norm demonstrated that he is more than capable of playing in the NHL and is knocking on the door of being a regular. He needs to train as never before this summer so that he comes into camp in the best shape of his life to really give himself a legitimate chance to make our hockey team." Feaster credited Assistant GM Claude Loiselle for the "systematic manner in which he has gone about getting so many valuable depth players signed already this off-season."

Jones: Rogers/O'Brien at Head of the Line?

In Tom Jones' [url=]article on the trade of Darryl Sydor[/url] he suggests rookies [url=andy-rogers]Andy Rogers[/url] or [url=doug-obrien]Doug O'Brien[/url] might be in line for a job in Tampa next season. However, GM Jay Feaster still hopes to acquire another veteran defenseman for close to the league minimum of $450,000. Obviously, the shedding of Sean Burke and his $1.6 million dollar salary would significantly improve Feaster's chances of landing another third pairing defenseman to round out the team's roster.

Sydor Traded [url=]reports defenseman Darryl Sydor has been traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 4th round pick.[/url] The move frees over $2.1 million dollars of payroll under the salary cap. It also could be the beginning of the Lightning stockpiling draft picks which could help them at the trade deadline this year as well as at the draft table next June. In addition, the chances of Tampa hopefuls like Andy Delmore, [url=andy-rogers]Andy Rogers[/url] or [url=matt-smaby]Matt Smaby[/url] making the team out of camp have greatly appreciated.
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