After weeks and months of waiting, the Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired a No.1 goaltender. TSN is reporting Tampa Bay GM Jay Feaster sent left winger and alternate captain Fredrik Modin and recently signed goaltender Fredrik Norrena to Columbus for goaltender Marc Denis. While the Lightning gave up a significant amount to acquire Denis, the importance of the goaltending position was made crystal clear last season as co-No.1's John Grahame and Sean Burke struggled as the defending champion Lightning snuck into the playoffs as an eighth seed after Nikolai Khabibulin left for Chicago. More analysis to follow.
The CHL Import Draft was held on Wednesday and in the end neither Denis Kazionov nor Riku Helenius were selected by teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL. The outcome is not terribly surprising considering Helenius' military commitments but there was a slight chance that Kazionov might be selected and convinced to come over. Instead, the Lightning will have to wait until next year to see the Tver winger make his North American debut.
Boltprospects was recently able to catch up with Lightning Head Scout Jake Goertzen to get his thoughts on the Lightningâ€™s 2006 draftees. In addition to providing comments on each player, Mr. Goertzen was kind enough to provide some insight into the immediate future of the 2006 class.
The Bolts took towering goaltender Riku Helenius in the first round at No.15. Speaking on behalf of the team, Goertzen states that the Finnish goaltender is â€œa very competitive kid and has all the qualities that we look for in a goaltender.â€
There has been some confusion as to where Helenius will play next year, be it in Finnish Juniors, the Finnish SM-Liiga, or the Canadian Hockey League if taken in Wednesdayâ€™s Import Draft. According to Goertzen, Helenius will spend the upcoming season in Finland, pending any new information the club may receive. Because Bruinâ€™s prospect Tuuka Rask is the No.1 with Ilvesâ€™ top squad, this may mean Helenius is again relegated to junior league duty, possibly causing a stall in his development. A sure way to control his development is to sign him early, however Goertzen states that is not an immediate option.
The Prince George Cougars are reporting the Red Deer Rebels have traded Tampa Bay first rounder Vladimir Mihalik to the Cougars in exchange for a 4th round Bantam selection in 2008. The move comes weeks after a writer for the Red Deer Advocate speculated Rebels Coach Brent Sutter did not want the 6'8", 234-pound defenseman back with the team.
Mihalik had 3 goals and 9 assists in 62 games last year with Red Deer, his first season in North America. Prince George was the recent home of Lightning first rounder (2004) Andy Rogers.
Tom Jones reports in today's St. Pete Times that 1st round pick Riku Helenius is likely to remain in Finland the next two years fulfilling military and contractual obligations. Finland is among many nations worldwide that requires compulsory military service of their young adults. The requirements could slow Helenius' development as he is likely to be stuck for the next season behind Bruins prospect Tuukka Rask on Ilves' depth chart.