I've made the executive decision, in light of the Lightning and Falcons dissolving their affiliation agreement, to not name a Prospect of the Week for 3/12 through 3/18. I would instead like to use this opportunity to salute the Springfield Falcons' fans. Things may not have ended the way the Lightning and the Falcons had hoped, but there's no doubting the class of the Springfield fans and the role that Springfield has played in already putting 4 Lightning prospects full time into the NHL (Ranger, Artyukhin, Craig and Tarnasky).
Sorry for my tardiness.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 21 of 24 shots faced for the win. Eric Perrin and Jason Ward led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist while Brad Richards had a pair of helpers. Vincent Lecavalier and Filip Kuba scored the other Lightning goals. Martin St. Louis, Doug Janik, Ruslan Fedotenko and Dan Boyle had individual helpers.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
According to ECHL.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned rookie left wing Radek Smolenak and the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League have reassigned rookie defenseman P.J. Atherton to Johnstown.
Smolenak has 25 points (13g-12a) and 31 penalty minutes in 32 games with Johnstown and one assist and eight penalty minutes in 20 games with Springfield.
Atherton has 26 points (4g-22a) and 46 penalty minutes in 49 games with Johnstown and two points (1g-1a) and two penalty minutes in seven games with Springfield.
In an article in today's St. Pete Times, Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster acknowledges that lack of firepower was a main reason the Springfield Falcons struggled as the Lightning's affiliate.
"We need to find some goal scorers," Feaster told the Times. "Even if they're not immediately going to be big-time goal scorers here they can be big-time goal scorers down there and give us that organizational depth."
Damian Cristodero, the article's author, suggests this may be a mult-year project. Head scout Jake Goertzen told the newspaper this year's draft is believed to be generally shallow. He said the greatest talent will be available in 2008.
Goertzen said the team would not pass up a stud at another position but agreed, "We must upgrade our skill and scoring."
The Lightning were in this position two years ago when they focused on addressing the need for skill and scoring at the 2005 draft, but ended up taking behemoth defenseman Vladimir Mihalik in the first round. The Lightning's next six picks were skilled players, and though at the time Feaster said, "Of our top four picks, we would've been happy taking any of them with our 30th overall pick," Mihalik made it three straight years Tampa Bay took a defenseman with their first pick.
According to the Hampton Roads Pilot Online, Norfolk Admirals President Ken Young says the recent affiliation moves by the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers will not hinder his pursuit of a new NHL affiliate.
"There's a lot of interest," Young told the Pilot. "There's absolutely no danger of losing AHL hockey in Norfolk."
Young also told the Pilot that he expected to have a deal in place by the end of the month.
Norfolk will end its regular season on April 15 in Bridgeport. The first possible playoff date is April 17.
Of interest: Young makes his home in Tampa, Florida.