The Springfield Falcons are reporting the Lightning have re-signed left winger Mitch Fritz to a two-way contract. Tampa GM Jay Feaster hints at the possibility of Fritz playing on a line in Tampa next season, which fits Feaster's wish for a more physical fourth line:
"We are very pleased to have Mitch under contract for another season", Feaster stated in a release. "As we have told him in the past, if he is able to continue to improve his skating and demonstrate the ability to contribute consistently on an every shift basis, he will become an NHL regular,â€ Feaster said. â€œHe is, pound for pound, one of the strongest players in professional hockey and he creates room for his teammates every time he steps on the ice. We need that type of physical presence in Tampa and we look forward to seeing Mitch in camp and determining whether he has continued to elevate his overall game to the NHL level."
The Springfield Falcons have signed Lightning prospect defenseman P.J. Atherton to an AHL contract. Atherton played 9 games with Springfield under a professional tryout contract late in the year after graduating from the University of Minnesota. In those 9 games Atherton totaled 1 goal and 4 points. The Lightning hold the 23 year old blueliner and former 2002 6th round pick's rights for one year after his date of graduation. His signing of an AHL only contract allows the Lightning to keep him in their system without having to fit him under the club's 50-man roster limit.
The Lightning have re-signed winger Dimitry Afanasenkov to a one-year deal worth about $738,000. The one-year deal is Afanasenkov's qualifying offer. The Lightning will likely start with Afansenkov on a scoring line this season after the departure of Fredrik Modin in the Marc Denis trade.
The NHL has released its regular season schedule and the Lightning will be opening October 5th on the road in Atlanta. 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 have already announced their home opener will take place October 20th.