It appears Lightning goaltending prospect Jaroslav Janus, formerly of the Norfolk Admirals, will head to Europe next season.
Julien BriseBois, general manager for the Lightning's top affiliate in Syracuse and assistant GM for the NHL club, told both Tampa Bay Times reporter Damian Cristodero and Syracuse Post-Standard writer Lindsay Kramer that Janus is looking for a place to play in Europe.
"He's someone who might play in the NHL and who we're still interested in working with," BriseBois told Cristodero. "We get to follow him for a year and re-evaluate where everyone stands a year from now."
Janus is an unsigned restricted free agent, meaning the Lightning don't have to sign him to maintain his rights through next season. Riku Helenius, a recent signee by Tampa Bay and who ironically may have pushed Janus out of an AHL job, played the last few seasons in Europe as an unsigned RFA.
At this point in his development, Janus is ready to take the mantle as a team's No.1 goaltender for a full season. He had spurts as the No.1 with AHL Norfolk when Dustin Tokarski was injured, ineffective, or called up to Tampa Bay, but has never been the unquestioned No.1 for a long period of time. The best thing for Janus' journey to the NHL is to get plenty of starts, and depending on where he ends up, he should get the ice time he needs to take the next step.
Looking ahead, a year from now the Lightning will be without Mathieu Garon, but will have Anders Lindback, Helenius, and Tokarski under contract. Helenius and Tokarski are expected to split time in the AHL this year. Janus will have to leapfrog two of the three goalies projected to be ahead of him to get a spot in Tampa. Coming back to the AHL may also be an option.
Janus won 23 games last year with Norfolk, posting one shutout, a 2.36 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. He broke Tokarski's record for most consecutive wins by a Norfolk goaltender when he finished the season with 15 straight victories. The 2009 sixth round pick went 3-1 in the playoffs as the Admirals won the Calder Cup, accumulating one shutout, a 1.69 GAA, and .937 save percentage.