The 2007 NHL Entry Draft taking place Friday and Saturday aren't the only drafts taking place in the next week. Next Wednesday, June 27th, the CHL will hold their 2007 Import Draft which takes on added importance as rumors persist that 2006 1st round pick Riku Helenius might cross the pond to play Canadian junior hockey next season.
Also in today's St. Pete Times, Damian Crisdotero breaks down the Lightning system by NHL readiness. One surprise on the list: defenseman Justin Fletcher from St. Cloud State who played well during an ATO stint with the Springfield Falcons at the end of last season. According to Crisdotero, Fletcher has signed a one year deal with the Lightning organization.
There have also been rumors that the Lightning are interested in bringing Falcons tryout forward Jacob Micflikier into the fold in Norfolk as well, although nothing substantial has surfaced as of yet.
Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times is reporting on his blog goaltender Vasily Koshechkin will stay in Russia this season. Crisdotero cites a conversation with Koshechkin's agent Jay Grossman in which the netminder expressed a sense of obligation to honor the final year of his Superleague contract. Koshechkin's contract was recent sold from Lada Togliatti to Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague. Early reports from this summer that had Koshechkin on the way to CSKA turned out to be unsubstantiated.
The Tampa Bay Lightning issued a press release today reporting that the team has re-signed defenseman Shane O'Brien to a two-year deal. The deal is reported to pay O'Brien $2M over the next 2 years, with $875k coming this season and $1.125M due the following. O'Brien's NHL salary last season paid $495k.
If you are reading this, then you know BoltProspects was offline for about 24 hours following an epic battle between an electrical storm and some internet hardware. The lightning won.
As Chad put it, the irony of ironies is that BoltProspects.com was taken offline by lightning. Go figure.
We'll were back and looking forward to Pete and Chad's coverage and analysis of Tampa's picks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft this weekend.
"The only thing that's for sure is nothing's for sure."
For fans and followers of the Lightning farm system, there's a very telling article in the St. Pete Times today by Damian Cristodero detailing the condition of the Lightning's prospects, in particular the forwards, as the club approaches the 2007 draft.
The story includes honest and objective opinions from Lightning GM Jay Feaster and Head Scout Jake Goertzen. Cristodero also includes the opinions of Barry Trapp, former head scout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to the St. Pete Times today, disgruntled winger Evgeny Artyukhin and his agent, Mark Gandler, have turned down a three year offer from the Lightning. The Times reported the deal was the same contract recently signed by Nick Tarnasky.
"We were told, " Feaster said, "that they are not the same player."
The Lightning's offer, which would have paid $500, 000, $525, 000 and $550, 000, was a bump from its previously refused offer of one-year, $475, 000.
"I thought it was a fair offer on our part and something that would be attractive to the player, but it appears that's not the case, " Feaster said. "I thought this might be a way to move off the position of a one-year contract and show the player we are serious and we do like him."
The Tampa Bay Lightning has released a report confirming the club has signed left wing Jan Hlavac to a one year contract. Hlavac has spent the last three season playing in Europe, most recently with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. Hlavac helped Sparta Praha to the Czech Extraliga championship this year with 8 goals and 2 assists in 16 playoff games.
TSN.ca is reporting the Lightning have traded a 2nd round pick in either 2007 or 2008 to the Florida Panthers in exchange for center Chris Gratton. Gratton, who was the Lightning's 1st round pick in 1993, will be making his third tour of duty with the Lightning. In 1008 career NHL games he has scored 204 goals and 544 points. In 81 games last season Gratton scored 13 goals and 35 points in 81 games with 94 penalty minutes. His career season came in 1996-1997 with the Lightning when he had 30 goals and 62 points in 82 games to go along with 201 penalty minutes. Gratton signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers the subsequent offseason and left Tampa with the infamous Phil Esposito smudged fax fiasco. Gratton returned in 1999 from Philadelphia and served as the Lightning's captain during the 1999-2000 season before being dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in a multi-player deal that included then-rookie defenseman Cory Sarich. Gratton will assume the Lightning's third line center role next season.