Lampman, 24, was a 2001 4th round selection by the Rangers and has played the past five seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack accumulating 19-57-76, +49, and 234 PIMs in 258 games played. During those 5 seasons, he appeared in 10 NHL games for the Rangers. â€œIn Bryce Lampman we are obtaining a mobile, very good skating, puck-moving defenseman with good vision who sees the ice well, makes a very good first pass and who possesses excellent hockey sense,â€ Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster said in a team press release. â€œHe is also a player who can be used in all special teams situations. For the past three or four seasons now our pro scouts have felt that he was on the verge of playing regularly in the NHL. He will come to training camp in September and have a chance to battle it out with probably five or six other players for the sixth and seventh spots on our blueline. Based on everything we have seen from him in the past, he is knocking on the door of being an NHL regular. We are thrilled to have him in our organization and we wish Mitch Fritz nothing but success.â€
Lampman, an assistant captain with the Wolf Pack, signed a contract with TPS in Finland on June 6 and the restricted free agent, who was qualified by the Rangers, has an out clause with TPS should he sign with an NHL club by July 10.
Fritz, 26, was signed by the Lightning as a free agent in 2005 and the 6'8", 258lb winger is one of the most feared and respected enforcers in the AHL, accumulating over 356 PIMs in two seasons with the organization. According to the St. Pete Times, Fritz had contacted Feaster when the Lightning qualified the restricted free agent to express his concern over lack of playing time at the AHL level and the inability to get a better chance to make the NHL club.
Damian Crisdotero reports on his blog that Riku Helenius will indeed come to North America this coming season to play for Seattle of the WHL. No mention of a source, but Helenius' move across the pond seems likely now that his Finnish club Ilves has signed veteran netminder Tero Leinonen away from Lulea of the Swedish Elitserien.
The 2007 NHL Entry Draft taking place Friday and Saturday aren't the only drafts taking place in the next week. Next Wednesday, June 27th, the CHL will hold their 2007 Import Draft which takes on added importance as rumors persist that 2006 1st round pick Riku Helenius might cross the pond to play Canadian junior hockey next season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has released a report confirming the club has signed left wing Jan Hlavac to a one year contract. Hlavac has spent the last three season playing in Europe, most recently with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. Hlavac helped Sparta Praha to the Czech Extraliga championship this year with 8 goals and 2 assists in 16 playoff games.
TSN.ca is reporting the Lightning have traded a 2nd round pick in either 2007 or 2008 to the Florida Panthers in exchange for center Chris Gratton. Gratton, who was the Lightning's 1st round pick in 1993, will be making his third tour of duty with the Lightning. In 1008 career NHL games he has scored 204 goals and 544 points. In 81 games last season Gratton scored 13 goals and 35 points in 81 games with 94 penalty minutes. His career season came in 1996-1997 with the Lightning when he had 30 goals and 62 points in 82 games to go along with 201 penalty minutes. Gratton signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers the subsequent offseason and left Tampa with the infamous Phil Esposito smudged fax fiasco. Gratton returned in 1999 from Philadelphia and served as the Lightning's captain during the 1999-2000 season before being dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in a multi-player deal that included then-rookie defenseman Cory Sarich. Gratton will assume the Lightning's third line center role next season.