Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News, one of the WHL and junior hockeyâ€™s most respected writers, reports Lightning 2010 first round draft pick Brett Connolly has been signed by the Bolts to a standard three-year entry level contract.
The Lightning have not announced the signing, and may not until July, according to Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) of the St. Pete Times.
Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssontrib) of the Tampa Tribune tweeted that Connolly confirmed he has agreed to a deal.
Connolly, a native of Prince George, B.C. and captain of the WHLâ€™s Prince George Cougars, is currently in Toronto involved in an intense training program in preparation for next season.
He was drafted sixth overall by the Lightning last summer, the first draft pick of the Jeff Vinik-Steve Yzerman era in Tampa Bay. The pick was scrutinized because Connolly had missed most of the previous season due to two hip injuries.
The winger played in 59 games this year for the Cougars, missing time only due to his participation for Canada at the World Junior championships, a minor knee injury, and a late shoulder separation sustained in the playoffs.
Al Murray, former head scout for Hockey Canada and current director of amateur scouting for the Lightning, told NHL.com last week the hip injuries were ancient history.
After Connollyâ€™s 2010-2011 season was finished Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said the 46-goal scorer needed to get stronger to help prevent injuries.
Connolly is in Toronto to work on just that.
"He'll stay [in Toronto] for the summer; he's made a significant commitment to put himself in every position to try and make the [Lightning] and to try and do as well as he can, so with added strength and confidence, we're anxious to see what he looks like in the fall training camp, but there will be no urgency to push Brett into a roster spot," Murray told NHL.com.
Because Connolly won't be 20 until May 2012, his options are to play for the Lightning or return to the WHL in the fall. He cannot play in the American Hockey League.
Connolly, who had 73 points in his 59 games last season, retained his spot as the Lightningâ€™s top prospect in our recently released 2010-2011 Final Rankings.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is reporting the Lightning are among 5 teams pursuing the services of AIK netminder Viktor Fasth. Fasth, 28, is currently starring for Team Sweden in the ongoing World Championships. A hybrid style netminder, Fasth posted a 2.26 GAA with 2 shutouts and a .925 save percentage in 42 appearances for his Elitserien side this season. According to the story, which was first published on Monday, no team has made a concrete offer to Fasth as of yet, but the belief is that he is seeking to play at the NHL level next season and, if assigned to the AHL, he may return to Sweden.
The website for Elitserien club Lulea is reporting that they have signed Lightning overage prospect forward Johan Harju to a 1-year deal. Harju was the Norfolk Admirals' lone representative in the AHL All-Star Game and appeared in 10 games for the Lightning this season, totaling 1 goal and 3 points.
The Norfolk Admirals have signed goaltender Pat Nagle to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO), Admirals General Manager Julien BriseBois announced today. In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Admirals, have reassigned goaltender Jaroslav Janus (YAHR-oh-slahv YAHN-ihs) from the Admirals to the ECHLâ€™s Florida Everblades, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Nagle, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week. He played in 37 games with the Ferris State (Mich.) Bulldogs this season, posting an 18-14-5 record with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He ranked fifth in NCAA Division-1 in GAA, tied for ninth for shutouts with three and tied for 10th in save percentage. Nagle also set school records for GAA and was tied for second in save percentage.
Damian Crisdotero is reporting that forward Johan Harju is downplaying remarks that were reported in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet recently quoting Harju as being unhappy with his current situation in the Lightning organization. The article claimed Harju was contemplating returning to Europe next season with his path to the NHL seemingly blocked by the strong performance of the club's forwards in Tampa Bay.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t really true,â€ Harju said. â€œA couple of guys from my hometown in Sweden (were) working for a newspaper and I talked to them and they understood me wrong, so that was the big thing and it was in the newspaper. I have a fun time here and love to play here.â€
Harju has a 1 goal and 2 points in 7 NHL games this season and 18 goals and 25 points in 40 games for Norfolk of the AHL. The 24 year old recently represented the Admirals in the AHL All-Star Game, posting an assist in that game. He was recalled recently with the injuries to Ryan Malone and Nate Thompson and will likely be in the lineup tonight against Carolina.
Pierre Lebrun of ESPN is reporting the Lightning have signed defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to a one-year deal. Bergeron, a power play specialist, had 13 goals and 34 points in 60 games a season ago with the Montreal Canadiens. The defenseman's career season came in 2006-2007 when he had 14 goals and 46 points in 78 games split between the Oilers and Islanders.
Mike Corcoran is also reporting that Bergeron will spend the next two weeks in Norfolk while the Lightning gauge whether to promote him to the big club.
Erik Erlendsson is reporting that the Lightning have signed Traverse City invitee defenseman Charles Landry to an entry level deal. Landry, who turned 19 in June, played three seasons with Drummondville in the QMJHL, including playing for current Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher during the 2008-2009 season when Drummondville made it to the Memorial Cup. The 5'11" 187 lbs blueliner had 6 goals and 30 points in 68 games last year for the Voltigeurs. The Lightning have assigned him to Montreal of the QMJHL for more junior seasoning. The strategy of signing undrafted junior prospects is similar to the practice followed by the Detroit Red Wings organization, which refers to the signees unofficially as "bonus picks."
The Tampa Bay Lightning signed left wing Alex Hutchings to a standard, three-year entry-level contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Hutchings, 5-foot-10, 173 pounds, played in 68 games with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League last season, recording 47 goals and 81 points. He ranked second on the Colts in goals and points. Hutchings was tied for fourth in the OHL for goals. His plus-44 rating was also third on the team. Hutchings played in 13 playoff games with Barrie last season, notching two goals and 10 points.
A native of Burlington, Ontario, Hutchings has played in 229 career OHL games, all with the Colts, registering 111 goals and 208 points. During the 2008-09 season he led the Colts in goals with 34, assists with 34, points with 68 and plus/minus with a plus-27. He also led Barrie with 29 goals and 54 points in 2007-08.
Hutchings was named to the OHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team during both the 2008-09 and 2007-08 seasons.
Hutchings, 19, was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 93rd overall, of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He will be participating in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, which gets under way tomorrow with the first scheduled practice.
--Tampa Bay Lightning press release
The Lightning have hired Frantz Jean as their new goaltending consultant, replacing the departed Cap Raeder. Jean has spent the last dozen years tutoring netminders for Moncton of the QMJHL. He's also served as the goaltending coach for Hockey Canada's 2009 and 2010 U18 entrants into the annual Ivan Hnlinka tournament.
As a part of the club's increased interest in player development under new GM Steve Yzerman, the Lightning have announced the hiring of former NHLer Steve Thomas as a Player Development Consultant. According to the Lightning's press release, the retired sniper, "will oversee the development of the Lightningâ€™s prospects in the junior and college ranks. He will provide guidance, mentoring and support to players in the Tampa Bay system to better prepare them for professional hockey." In 1,235 career NHL games, Thomas compiled 421 goals and 933 points in stints with six NHL teams including the Maple Leafs, Islanders, and Red Wings.