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.
TAMPA BAY, Fla. â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Jon Cooper to be the head coach of the American Hockey Leagueâ€™s Norfolk Admirals today, Admirals General Manager Julien BriseBois announced. Cooper joins the Admirals from the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.
â€œWe are pleased to announce Jon as the head coach of the Admirals today,â€ BriseBois said upon making the announcement. â€œHe has excelled at a championship level in each location he has coached and we are happy he elected to continue his career in the Lightning organization. Jon is a perfect fit as we strive to restore a winning culture for our players and the fans in Norfolk.â€
Cooper, a native of Prince George, British Columbia, has spent the previous two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, posting an 84-27-9 record. He also led the Gamblers to two Anderson Cups, awarded to the USHL regular season champions, and one Clark Cup, given to the playoff champions.
â€œI am honored and humbled to be offered this great opportunity with organizations led by first class individuals such as Jeff Vinik, Ken Young, Steve Yzerman, Julien BriseBois and Guy Boucher,â€ Cooper said. â€œWith strong leadership from the ownership level down through both franchises, everyone is working towards making the Lightning and the Admirals an organization to be proud of and Iâ€™m honored that theyâ€™ve asked me to be part of it.â€
During his first season behind the bench in Green Bay, Cooper helped lead the biggest one-year improvement in USHL history after the Gamblers went from 32 points in 2007-08 to 82 points and the USHLâ€™s best record in 2008-09. Cooper was recognized for his efforts following the 2008-09 season, being named the 2009 USHL General Manager of the Year.
Last season Cooper led Green Bay to its second consecutive Anderson Cup as well as the Clark Cup Championship, the teamâ€™s first since 2000. He guided the team to a 45-10-5 record, the best in Gamblersâ€™ 16-year franchise history. Cooper was also awarded the USHL Coach and General Manager of the Year honors.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman and 2010 draft pick Radko Gudas to a three-year, entry level contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. Gudas most recently participated in the Lightningâ€™s 2010 Development Camp, held in Tampa July 10-14.
Gudas, 6-foot, 202 pounds, played in 65 games with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League last season, recording seven goals and 37 points with a plus-45 rating. He led the team in plus/minus and penalty minutes with 151. Gudas also led all Everett defensemen in points and assists. He also skated in three playoff games with the Silvertips, recording two assists.
The blog Latvian Hockey is reporting forward Juraj Simek has been released from his tryout with KHL club Dynamo Riga. Simek, who scored a career high 21 goals and 36 points last season with Norfolk in the AHL, was cut loose after just two exhibition games with the team. Riga's decision may open the door for the Lightning to re-sign the speedy, two-way forward. In three professional seasons in the AHL, Simek had 37 goals and 75 points in 204 regular season games.