When Lightning prospects last took the ice, Tampa co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie squared off behind the benches in an intra squad scrimmage to close last month's Prospect Camp in Victoria, BC. But when Tampa prospects take to the ice September 13th in Traverse City, MI for the 8 team tournament, the owners will leave the coaching to the professionals. The Lightning announced that Norfolk Admirals head coach Darren Rumble will lead the year's Traverse squad along with Norfolk assistant coach Alan May.
It was also confirmed that the remaining player on Tampa's roster will be free agent invitee Luciano Aquino. The 5.10, 200 lbs right winger put up a gaudy 41-50-91 in 74 games last year for the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets enroute to winning the IHL Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Aquino is a 2005 7th round pick of the New York Islanders and is no stranger to offensive proclivities. He was a point-per-gamer for the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies in the 2006-07 season, and put up a tawdry 2.25 point-per-game average in his shortened final junior campaign for Brampton. Aquino's Fort Wayne teammate Matieu Curadeau recently signed a two-way AHL/IHL contract with Norfolk, and Aquino, who lists Tampa's Martin St. Louis as his favorite NHL player, will be given a long look by the organization whose system lacks an explosive right wing sniper.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune published the Lightning's Traverse City Prospects Tournament roster today. And while Steven Stamkos is a glaring omission from the roster, it is composed mostly of 2007 and 2008 Lightning draftees including Finnish forward Matias Sointu. Recently acquired top defensive prospect Ty Wishart highlights the roster that also includes six free agent invitees and two Norfolk Admirals free agent signees. Five of the six free agent invitees are from the WHL, including Tri-City's surprisingly undrafted Kruise Reddick and Tyson Barrie's and Torrie Jung's Kelowna teammate Lucas Bloodoff.
There's one more unconfirmed player whose name has yet to be released.
Norfolk Free Agent Signees
Free Agent Invitees
Since Jay Feaster took over as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2002, two things have stood out as being top priorities with the organizationâ€”winning and work ethic.
Success is earned.
In this meritocracy system, Feaster will do whatever it takes to win, and if a player doesnâ€™t perform up to expectations, he is in danger of losing his spot on the depth chart, if not the roster.
Starting off their pro careers on the right foot is essential for young prospects in the organization, such as the 20 that finished eighth out of eight teams in last weekâ€™s Traverse City (TC) prospects tournament in Michigan. Individual performances aside, winning is priority number one with the club and the last-place finish is not sitting well with the general manager.
â€œI am not pleased with the results,â€ Feaster made sure to tell Bolt Prospects before providing player evaluations.
Bolt Prospects has been the only site archiving the Lightning's Traverse City statistics since the team began participating in the tournament. This post is to archive this year's statistics, which come courtesy of Pointstreak, and to link to past years statistics for comparison purposes.
Crisdotero also blogged some quotes from Lightning GM Jay Feaster today regarding the play of the team's prospects at the Traverse City tournament.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Feaster raves about the play of forward Radek Smolenak and admits several organizations expressed praise for Smolenak's play and lauds defenseman Mike Lundin's strong play in the tournament.
Bolt Prospects will have more on the Lightning organization's reaction to the Traverse City tournament later this week.