(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Riku Helenius to a two-year contract, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. The first year of Heleniusâ€™ contract will be a two-way deal, while the second will be a one-way.
Helenius, 24, played in 33 games for JYP of Finlandâ€™s SM-liiga, compiling a 1.64 goals against average and .936 save percentage. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound goaltender appeared in 13 playoff games this past season, posting a 1.73 goals against average and a .947 save percentage, helping lead JYP to the league championship. The Palkane, Finland native was also given the Urpo Ylonen Award as the top goaltender during the regular season.
The Finnish netminder was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Helenius made his NHL debut with the Lightning on January 30, 2009 against the Philadelphia Flyers in a relief effort and stopped both shots he faced.
Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports that the Lightning have signed goaltender Riku Helenius to a new two-year deal. The first year of the deal will reportedly be a two-way deal worth $550,000 on its upside while the second year will be a one-way deal worth $650,000. Helenius won a SM-liiga championship this season with JYP and earned the Urpo Ylonen Award as the league's top goaltender. Helenius was the Lightning's first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Finnish sports website Keskisuomalainen is reporting that former Lightning first round pick Riku Helenius is attracting attention from the Lightning as well as multiple KHL clubs, including Amur Khabarovsk, all of which are vying for his services next season. News about Helenius, who won the SM-liiga championship and was one of Finland's best goaltenders last year, broke in the magazine Veikkaaja, which has been cited by several other websites claiming Helenius' asking price was a 1-way deal. Helenius, who stands at 6'3" and 198 lbs, had a 1.64 GAA and .936 save percentage in the regular season for JYP, which he followed with a 1.73 GAA and .947 save percentage in the playoffs.
Swiss online newspaper 20 Minuten quotes a newspaper interview out of Lucerne with Steve Yzerman in which Yzerman confirmed offering a contract to Swiss superstar Damien Brunner. The article goes on to speculate Brunner is almost certain to leave for North America after a strong World Championships has bolstered his stock with several NHL clubs. Brunner, 26, played for Zug in the Swiss NLA league this season, tallying 24 goals and 60 points in 45 regular season games to lead the league in scoring. He also finished tied for the league lead in playoff scoring with 3 goals and 14 points in 9 games, even despite the fact his top seeded club was upset in the Semifinals. The 5'11", 187 pound right winger is an exceptional skater, and has posted 3 goals and 7 points in 7 games thus far at the World Championships.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they have signed free agent forward J.T. Brown from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The 21-year old was the MVP of last year's Frozen Four and scored 24 goals and 47 points in 39 games for the Bulldogs this season as a sophomore. Prior to joining Minnesota-Duluth, Brown played for 2 seasons in the defensive-minded USHL, posting an impressive 34 goals and 77 points in 60 games in his final season for Waterloo. His father, Ted Brown, played 8 seasons for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings amassing 4,546 yards in rushing between 1979 and 1986 after being taken in the first round out of NC State.
The Lightning won a bidding war for Brown's services that reportedly included the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. He is likely to spend the rest of this season with the Lightning in the NHL and he will be a strong candidate to stick with the team next season. He is lauded for his speed, grit, and shot, and was arguably the most sought after NCAA free agent remaining after University of Western Michigan junior defenseman Danny DeKeyser made the decision to stay in school.
Lightning advisor Tom Kurvers, a Minnesota-Duluth alumni, as quoted in the Duluth News Tribune:
"He plays hard both ways, heâ€™s aggressive, he has speed, moves the puck, has a scoring knack and is a clutch performer. He played his absolute best in the Frozen Four last year," said Tampa Bay senior adviser to the general manager Tom Kurvers, a former UMD All-American defenseman, who watched the Bulldogs 14 times this season. "His competitiveness is so noticeable and he has a little evil streak, which heâ€™s learned to control... Heâ€™s gotten better the last two years and his time in Duluth was well spent."