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.