Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is confirming the Lightning have re-signed Jason Ward to a two year deal on his blog. The contract is slated to pay Ward an average of $675,000 a year. Ward was acquired from the LA Kings at last year's trade deadline and quickly ascended to a scoring line job on Brad Richards' wing. In an ideal world, Ward would be a third liner, but given the Lightning's depth issues he could find himself back on Richards' line next season.
The Trib also reports contract negotiations may be at an impasse with formed 2001 3rd round pick Evgeny Artyukhin. Artyukhin has turned down a 1 year $475,000 offer from the Lightning and has reportedly signed a deal with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague. According to Erlendsson, GM Jay Feaster has no plans to make a counteroffer to Artyukhin's agent Mark Gandler.
The Sarnia Sting made a pair of surprising selections in the 8th round of yesterday's OHL Priority Draft, choosing Lightning prospect defenseman Kevin Quick and his younger brother Kyle from Salisbury Prep. The elder Quick was a particularly unorthodox selection considering he is nearly three years older than many of the selections from this draft class. Speculation abounds that both of the Quicks, both defensemen, will report to Sarnia this Fall. Kevin had previously committed to play college hockey with the University of Michigan, but if he chooses to play in the OHL next season the Lightning will likely sign the slick skating defenseman next summer; much earlier than had been previously expected.
The numbers haven't necessarily been pretty, but Lightning prospect netminder Vasily Koshechkin is now 3-0 for Russia at the ongoing World Championships. Koshechkin and the Russians defeated Switzerland today 6-3 today in their qualifying round matchup. Koshechkin stopped 13 shots in the game and also recorded an assist on a first period Ilya Kovalchuk goal. Russia and Sweden, both 4-0 in Group E, will square off tomorrow in their final game of the qualifying round.
According to TSN.ca, Russia is close to signing a new transfer agreement with the IIHF. For the past two seasons, Russia has refused to enter into a deal with the IIHF making it difficult for NHL teams to sign their Russian prospects and bring them to North America. Such a deal would remove potential roadblocks to the signing of prospects Denis Kazionov, Dimitri Kazionov and Vasily Koshechkin this summer. The team has expressed interest in signing all three players within the past year.
Eurohockey.net is confirming that defenseman Joe Rullier has signed a contract to play with Lukko Rauma of the Finnish SM-liiga next season. Rullier was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks organization at the trade deadlime this season in exchange for defenseman Doug O'Brien. Rullier's departure leaves the Lightning in need of a veteran defenseman to anchor the blueline corps in Norfolk next season.