Patrick Roy knows how to make headlines.
This summer, the NHL Hall of Famer and Quebec Remparts coach/general manager made news when he chose Lightning 2010 second rounder and scoring star Nikita Kucherov out of the CSKA program in Russia during the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. Few thought Kucherov was even an option to come to North America, but Roy obviously knew better, and he had an ace up his sleeve by the name of Mikhail Grigorenko.
The KHL website is reporting that CSKA Moscow has traded Nikita Gusev to Amur Khabarovsk in exchange for a first round pick in the 2013 junior draft. Gusev had been playing for CSKA's affiliate in the VHL, Tver. The VHL is Russia's second tier men's league. Khabarovsk fell to Novosibirsk 3-2 today, but Gusev was not in the lineup for the club.
According to the the HC Slovan Bratislava website, Lightning prospect goaltender Jaroslav Janus will be taking his talents to his native Slovakia. Janus reportedly signed a tryout agreement with Slovan. The fourth-year pro is looking for a No.1 goaltending position after being nudged out of the Lightning's AHL plans when Tampa Bay signed goalies Anders Lindback and Riku Helenius. Lindback in Tampa with Mathieu Garon keeps Dustin Tokarski in the AHL and Helenius takes Janus' spot as Tokarski's tandem partner.
The Lightning encouraged Janus' move to Europe as it will give him the best chance for more playing time - which is exactly what he needs at this point in his development. The club made it clear they continue to view Janus, 22, as a legitimate NHL prospect.
Last season, Janus won 23 games 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.
HC Slovan currently has two goaltenders on their big club, per KHL.ru: 24-year-old Branislav Konrad, who has played 116 games for the club over the past three years, and 27-year-old Ville Hostikka, who played 33 games in Finland for Karpat last season.
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.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2011 second round pick Nikita Kucherov confirmed via Twitter (@Kucher86) this morning where he’s going to play next season: “Quebec Remparts !!!”
Remparts Coach/General Manager Patrick Roy drafted Kucherov with the 43rd pick in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft as either a playmate or replacement for Sabres first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko. Kucherov and Grigorenko are good friends and played on the same line together with Russia’s U-20 side last year in the World Junior Championships. The third member of that line, Sergei Gusev, is a Lightning draft pick who will remain with CSKA in Russia.
As a winger for CSKA’s junior club last year with Gusev, Kucherov had 24 goals and 43 points in just 23 games. He had three goals and four points in seven playoff games before a shoulder injury knocked him out of action. That same shoulder kept him from participating in the Lightning’s prospect development camp in early July, though he’s expected to be ready for the start of the QMJHL season in September.
A dynamic offensive weapon, Kucherov is expected to put up big numbers in the Q this year, especially if Grigorenko is at his side. Last year Grigorenko had 40 goals and 85 points in 59 games for Quebec.