Lightning prospect Radek Smolenak has signed a two-year deal with Czech Extraliga club HC Sparta Praha. Smolenak, a 2005 3rd round pick of the Lightning, had a disappointing 2009-2010 campaign where he scored 9 goals and 27 points in 60 games for AHL clubs Norfolk and Abbotsford. Smolenak was loaned to Abbotsford late in the season after rumored disciplinary problems and a falling out with Head Coach Jim Johnson of the Admirals. Smolenak signed a one-year deal with the Lightning in training camp after being cut at the end of the KHL preseason by Nizhnekamsk, and he also appeared in 1 game for the Chicago Blackhawks at the start of the season in a short stint in that organization after being claimed on waivers.
The Lightning have the option of extending a qualifying offer to Smolenak in order to retain his NHL rights.
On a rather sad note, today will mark the final game for the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs in Johnstown, PA. The franchise, owned by former NHL GM Neil Smith, has been plagued by financial problems for years and will be moving to Greenville, SC next season. Johnstown was the Tampa Bay Lightning's ECHL affiliate for three years between 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. Three of the Lightning's prospects who played in Johnstown have since seen time in the NHL: Radek Smolenak, Jay Rosehill, and Andre Deveaux.
I can honestly say that, outside of Norfolk Admirals fans, I don't think there's been an affiliate's fan base that was more supportive of their club than the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs. I'm sure this is a major blow for a town that has had some challenges over the past few years. Bolt Prospects salutes the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs and we hope that Johnstown, PA gets another franchise soon.
TAMPA BAY, Fla. â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned forward Radek Smolenak to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton.
Smolenak, 23, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left wing from Prague, Czech Republic, appeared in 39 games with the Admirals this season, scoring seven goals and 14 assists with 49 penalty minutes. After skating in one regular season game with the Chicago Blackhawks to start the season, he was re-claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 10 and was reassigned to Norfolk. He was signed by the Lightning to a one-year contract on September 12.
Norfolk remains undefeated in regulation under Jim Johnson, but fails to secure the second point.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 31 of 34 shots for the overtime loss.
NOR Simek, (12) (Smolenak, Jackson), 11:02
SPR Fretter, (18) (Trukhno, Pokulok), 13:03
SPR Plante, (2) (David, Wiseman), 16:15
NOR Fornataro, (3) (Wishart, Smolenak), 0:24 (PP)
SPR Reddox, (11) (Tarkir, Minard), 1:32
Janus was named the game's third star. A scoring change took away a point from Ty Wishart on the winning goal against Hartford, so tonight's assist is actually his 20th point of the season. The question remains the same though: why not 30? He's got it rolling, and shows no signs of letting up. Radek Smolenak is starting to step up in clutch time of the season. He has 2 goals and 6 points on the current road trip, on which the Admirals have claimed 9 of a possible 10 points in the 5 games.
Norfolk stays at 2 games under .500 with 45 points in 47 games and remains in 4th place in the East Division. However, due to the crossover rules this season, it's highly likely that only the top 3 teams in the East will make the postseason. The Admirals picked up a point on 5th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to move 1 point ahead of the Penguins with the Pens holding 2 games in hand. They also picked up a point on Binghamton to move 3 points up on the Sens with the Senators holding 4 games in hand. That's the good news. The bad news is that they lost a point to Adirondack, which is now 2 points up on Norfolk with 2 games in hand.
And that leads to a huge 4-point tilt tomorrow night between Norfolk and the Phantoms. If Norfolk wins in regulation, they'll move into a tie with Adirondack for the final playoff spot in the East at 47 points. I suspect that's why Jim Johnson saved Dustin Tokarski for that matchup. He's 2-0-0 in his starts on this road trip, including the big 1-0 shutout in Lowell last Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jim Johnson is 4-0-0 as Head Coach.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the win.
NOR Lashoff, (4) (Simek, Hale), 2:51 (PP)
HFD Byers, (12) (Locke, Roche), 10:05 (PP)
NOR Parrish, (11) (Fadden, Wishart), 14:12
HFD Crowder, (10) (Ambuhl, Owens), 2:42
HFD Roche, (1) (Locke), 6:49
NOR Tyrell, (2) (Cruthers), 10:10
NOR Hale, (1) (Smolenak, Lashoff), 19:09 (PP)
HFD Locke, (19) (Williams, Heikkinen), 15:08 (PP)
NOR Fadden, (2) (Fornataro, Jackson), 17:14
Mark Parrish was named the game's first star. It's absolutely amazing. After being nowhere statistically for the first half of the season, Mitch Fadden and Dana Tyrell have stepped up and found the scoresheet regularly on this road trip. After going 38 games without a goal, Tyrell now has a goal in each of the past couple of games. And, after going scoreless for the first 15 games of his pro career, Fadden now has 1 goal and 5 points in the past 4 games.
After a scoring change on the game winning goal, Ty Wishart now has 4 multi-point games in his last 6 contests. He's got 20 points now. Why not 30? You can also file Matt Lashoff having his first multi-point night of the season tonight in the category of good news. Much like Radek Smolenak, who started to get on track in the last game and had an assist tonight, the Admirals need Lashoff to start playing to his potential if they're going to push their way into the playoffs.
All in all, despite allowing 4 goals, the Admirals can feel very good about tonight's win considering their captain, Ryan Craig, is away from the team temporarily while he and his wife are having a baby. With the win, Norfolk now creeps to just 2 games under .500. More to the point, the Admirals have jumped to with 1 point of Adirondack for the final playoff spot in the East Division, with Adirondack holding 2 games in hand. They're tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 44 points with the Penguins also having 2 games in hand. They've also moved 2 points ahead of Binghamton, but the Senators hold 4 games in hand.
Norfolk gets a day off before heading back to Springfield, which is in last place in the Atlantic Division, on Friday night. Here's the big one, though: circle it on your calendars. Norfolk has a colossal 4 point divisional tilt in Adirondack on Saturday night. Looking at the schedule, the formula for the Admirals to make the playoffs is pretty simple: they have 14 road games left and 20 at home. They're playing 2 games over .500 on the road by and games under .500 at home. If they can start protecting home ice better and win the lion's share of the 4 point divisional tilts left on their schedule, they will get in. Norfolk has 4 games left against Adirondack (2 home/ 2 away), 6 games left against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (4 home/ 2 away), and 3 games left against Binghamton (0 home/ 3 away).
Box score from TheAHL.com.