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.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Randy Jones to a one-year contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced.
â€œRandy is a skilled defenseman, capable of playing in all situations on both the right and left side,â€ Yzerman said. â€œHis addition gives us some needed depth on the blue line."
Jones, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, has played in 265 career NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings. He has amassed 18 goals, three power-play goals, three game-winning goals and 90 points. Last season he played in 48 games with the Kings, recording five goals and 21 points. His five goals tied his career high and he ranked third among Los Angeles defenders in goals, assists and points.
TSN is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed restricted free agent forward Steve Downie to a two-year, $3.7M contract. Last season, Downie had a break-out year tallying 22 goals and adding 24 assists playing mostly on a top line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
With the Downie signing, the Lightning have just Paul Ranger as the lone unsigned restricted free agent, but his status for returning to hockey after sitting out the 2009-10 season for personal reasons remains questionable. After the recent free agent signings of Dominic Moore and Sean Bergenheim, GM Steve Yzerman's next priority is expected to be getting Rocket Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos to sign a contract extension. His entry-level contract expires at the end of the 2010-11 season.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent left wing Sean Bergenheim (BUHR-gehn-highm, SHAWN) to a one-year contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced.
â€œWe are happy to add Sean to the Lightning roster today,â€ Yzerman said. â€œHe is a competitive left winger who is also a solid two-way player. We believe he is a good addition to our team.â€
Bergenheim, 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, has registered 40 goals, 80 points and 195 penalty minutes in 246 career NHL games, all with the New York Islanders. He has reached double digits in goals and points in each of the last three seasons. In 2009-10, Bergenheim led the Islanders in game-winning goals with two and tied for eighth on the team with 133 shots on goal. His best offensive season came in 2008-09 when he recorded career-highs in goals with 15, the teamâ€™s third-highest total, and points with 24. He also ranked first on the Islanders in shorthanded goals with four and game-winning goals with five.
UPDATE: The Lightning have confirmed the signing of Simek to a one-year, two-way contract.
Reports surfaced just a few days ago that Simek had been cut from his try-out agreement with Dynamo Riga of the KHL after the team's second exhibition game. At that time, Latvian hockey news outlet icebox.lv was reporting that Simek intended to return to the Norfolk Admirals, the Lightning's AHL affiliate he had been playing for since the Bolts acquired him in 2008 along with Lukas Krajicek for Shane O'Brien and Michel Ouellet.