Lightning Signs Two with Norfolk in Mind

Beginning the tall task of building a winning team in Norfolk while simultaneously accumulating quality depth, TSN is reporting the Bolts have signed former Chicago Blackhawk and Norfolk Admiral Craig MacDonald, as well as 2006-2007 Worcester Shark Mathieu Darche.

According to the report, the 30-year-old MacDonald spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring three goals and picking up two assists in 25 games.

In 160 career regular season games with Carolina, Florida, Boston, Calgary and Chicago, MacDonald has eight goals and 14 assists.

"Craig is a veteran player with significant NHL experience who will be given every opportunity to make our hockey team," said Tampa Bay executive vice president and general manager Jay Feaster. "He is a high-character guy who plays hard and competes every shift. He has very good hockey sense, is responsible defensively, is good on draws and is strong on his skates. He does all of the little things it takes to win hockey games and that makes him a good fit for us. He is also a leader at the AHL level and is exactly the kind of depth player we need to continue adding to our organization. We look forward to having him compete for a spot on our roster in camp."

Last year in 50 games with AHL Norfolk, MacDonald had 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points.

In 28 career NHL games with Columbus, Nashville and San Jose, Darche has recorded a goal and an assist. Before being signed as a free agent by Columbus in 2000, he played four seasons at McGill University in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union, leading the league in scoring in 1999-2000 with 72 points in 33 games.

“Mathieu is a prolific scorer and outstanding playmaker at the AHL level, and will get a chance to compete for a spot on our roster in camp,” Feaster said in a team press release. “He has great vision and very good hands and he shows excellent poise with the puck. He works hard and competes consistently, and he continues to post big numbers at the minor league level. We simply don't have enough quality veteran depth players like Mathieu in our organization, and we are very pleased Mathieu recognizes the opportunity we present.

“Our scouting staff did an outstanding job identifying the depth players we wanted to target, and Claude Loiselle was relentless in pursuing good, solid contracts with both players. As a result, we are significantly better and deeper, organizationally, than we were prior to the start of free agency.”

Last season Darche led the Worcester Sharks in scoring by 17 points. His 80 points (35+45) in 76 games played were good for seventh in the league last year. He was tied for sixth in goals.

Both players, if they do not earn a spot with the Lightning, will provide valuable offensive contributions to Norfolk in the Lightning's first year of affiliation with the Admirals.

In other news, though a formal announcement was never made, it has been confirmed with the Lightning that the club signed defenseman Justin Fletcher this off-season.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Good signings

From a Norfolk Admirals point of view, two good signings. McDonald played here last year and was the captain. Having watched him play in person, I would tend to agree with Feaster's comments about him.

Darche had 35 goals and 45 assists with a +6 rating for Worcester last year. He will bring some good offensive talent to the table.

It was no secret that last year's minor league edition in Springfield was offensively challenged. And Feaster, Stirling and the Norfolk management have stated that they would have to bring in quality free agents to bolster the team in Norfolk next year. Most everyone took a wait and see attitude since we have heard that song before.

But it seems to be now they are translating words into actions. There will be a lot of young players in Norfolk next year, and having quality veterans to mentor them is a good thing. There is still some work to do, but we seem to be going in the right direction.

Competition in NF

With a nice crop of vet wingers for NF, there's going to be some serious competition among Kvapil, Keller, Lascek, Smolenak and possibly Lawrence (if they look at him as a W now instead of C - he's played W for the last 3 years) for a top-6/9 winger spot. Which, of course, is exactly what Feaster wants.

Jones should really benefit from these signings.

Norfolk D?

So now that they have the 5 vets.....what happens with the D? They're just going to go with 6 kids in Norfolk? yikes.

The question is would Janik

The question is would Janik or a similar defenseman count against the veteran rule? They may have someone targeted who doesn't quite meet the games played threshold.

The rule is...

An AHL "vet" has played 280 pro games (NHL+AHL+ECHL+EU). Janik is easily an AHL vet.

Vet rule

They could do what Hershey and Albany and other teams had to do last year and sit a vet, but that would be a worst case scenario.

Of course, they could also keep Stewart in Tampa to serve popcorn and get the odd dressing.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.