TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in 38 games as a captain with the Western Michigan University Broncos in 2012-13, recording two goals and 10 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes while being named Second-Team All-CCHA. He led the Broncos with 53 blocked shots and ranked second for penalty minutes. Witkowski also added two power-play tallies.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski played in 152 games during his four-year career at Western Michigan. He accumulated seven goals and 38 points with 235 penalty minutes. He won the 2010-11 Bill Saunders Plus/Minus Award for finishing with the Broncos’ best plus/minus rating at plus-13.
Prior to attending Western Michigan, Wikowski played for the Fargo Force and the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL. He amassed nine goals and 26 assists in two USHL seasons. Witkowski was named to the 2009 USHL All-Star Team.
Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted he has attended four Lightning Development Camps.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Tanner Richard to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Richard, 19, has skated in 52 games this season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 11 goals and 62 points to go along with 94 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward ranks first on the Storm and ninth in the OHL in assists with 51 and was third on his team with a plus-18 rating. Richard also played in five postseason games against the Kitchener Rangers, registering three assists and six penalty minutes.
The Jona, Switzerland native has appeared in 95 career OHL games, all with Guelph, collecting 24 goals and 110 points with 140 penalty minutes. He also represented Switzerland at the 2013 IIHF World Jr. Championships in Russia, posting four assists and plus-two rating in six tournament games.
Richard was originally drafted by the Lightning in the third round, 71st overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning have released Guy Boucher from his head coaching commitment, effective immediately, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced this morning.
Yzerman also announced that Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities for the game tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Lightning signed 2012 first-round pick Slater Koekkoek to a standard three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
"This is obviously something I have been working toward my whole life,” Koekkoek said in a Spitfires press release. “I am happy it's done. But now the real hard work begins.
"Obviously my first hope is to make the Tampa club out of camp [next year]. But knowing I have a great team and teammates to come back to in Windsor if that doesn't happen is awesome."
Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy reports Lightning prospect goaltender Jaroslav Janus has signed a two-year contract with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League. Janus had been on a tryout agreement with the club.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times confirmed the 2-year contract with Janus' agent. The agent told Cristodero that Janus has an out clause next summer should he wish to return to North America.
The fourth-year pro went to Europe 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. The Lightning are scheduled to get Garon off the books next year, opening up a possible spot for Helenius, Tokarski, or Janus.
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.
(Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Dmitry Korobov to a two-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Korobov, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, has played in 82 games with Dynamo Minsk of the Kontinential Hockey League during three seasons, recording two goals and 20 points with 46 penalty minutes. He has also played in nine KHL playoff games with Minsk, notching a goal and three points. Korobov played in a career-high 39 games last season. He also scored one goal and established career highs for assists with 10 and points with 11. Korobov also led all Dynamo defensemen, and was fourth on the team, with a plus-12 rating. He was also fifth among Minsk defensemen in average ice time with 18:52 per game.
A native of Novopolotsk, Belarus, Korobov has represented his home nation at each of the previous three IIHF World Championships, recording two goals and eight points. He played in seven games in this year’s tournament in Stockholm and Helsinki, contributing three assists. Korobov led the Belarusians in average ice time during the tournament with 23:21 per game and led all defensemen with 13 shots on goal. He also skated in the 2007 World Junior Championships as well as the 2006 World Under-18 Championships.
Korobov, 23, went undrafted in the NHL.
BP Notes: The Lightning were reportedly eyeing Korobov last year after his World Championship performance for Belarus. He had two goals and three assists in six games last year for Belarus in the tournament. Due to numbers, it appears Korobov slots into the Syracuse roster with a chance to move up in the near future. His signing helps the depth at the top of the AHL level with Radko Gudas, Evan Oberg, and Mark Barberio, and ahead of relatively green signed prospects such as Charles Landry and Daniel Milan. At first glance, it appears the Syracuse blueline will include Barberio, Gudas, Oberg, JP Cote, Matt Taormina, Korobov, and Jared Nightingale.
(Pictured: AP photo of Korobov taking Canada's Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche into the boards.)
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Ted Purcell to a three-year contract extension, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. The contract runs from 2013-14 to 2015-16.
Purcell, 26, skated in 81 games last season with the Lightning, recording 24 goals and 65 points to go along with 16 penalty minutes. He set career highs in goals, assists (41), points, power-play goals (eight), game-winning goals (three) and plus/minus (+9). The 6-foot-2, 201-pound forward ranked first on the Bolts for plus/minus, second for assists, and third for goals and points. Purcell registered a Lightning season-high and career-best, 11-game point streak from February 21 through March 8, tallying seven goals and 11 assists during the stretch. He also represented Canada at the IIHF World Championships, registering a goal and two points in eight games.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Anders Lindback (AHN-dehrs LIND-bahck) to a two-year contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Lindback, 24, played in 16 games this past season with the Predators, compiling a record of 5-8-0 to go along with a 2.42 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. The 6-foot-6, 203-pound goaltender has appeared in 38 career NHL games, all with Nashville, registering a 16-13-2 record, with a 2.53 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. One of the leagueâ€™s tallest goaltenders, Lindback made his NHL debut on October 9, 2010 against the Anaheim Ducks in a relief effort. He made seven consecutive starts from December 4-17 during the 2010-11 season, posting a 6-0-1 record with a 1.43 goals against average and a .949 save percentage.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Taormina, 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, has played in 47 career NHL games with the New Jersey Devils during the previous two seasons, recording four goals and 12 points with a plus-4 rating. He made his NHL debut on October 8 vs. Dallas and recorded his first point October 13 at Buffalo.
A native of Warren, Michigan, Taormina has played in 199 career AHL games with the Binghamton Senators, Lowell Devils and Albany River Rats. He has registered 18 goals and 71 points, including a career-high 16 goals and 66 points in 2009-10. That season he led all Lowell defensemen, and was third on the team, with 10 goals and 50 points. Those totals were the most by a rookie in franchise history. Taormina also set a franchise record with 32 power-play points with eight goals and 24 assists.