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CHL Import Draft Set for Wednesday

The story of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft isn't over yet, because the CHL has yet to hold their annual Import Draft. The two Europeans selected by the Lightning in Saturday's draft, [url=riku-helenius]Riku Helenius[/url] and [url=denis-kazionov]Denis Kazionov[/url], could be selected and choose to play junior hockey in Canada's season. In Helenius' case, such a choice might be an important one in his development with Tuukka Rask likely to stifle any opportunities for playing time at the SM-liiga level in the Ilves organization in Finland. For Kazionov, a selection in Wednesday's Import Draft could be an intriguing opportunity for him to further a potential NHL career in ways his older brother did not when he had the chance. In 2002, Dimitry Kazionov was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL but chose to remain in Russia where he has struggled to get more than 4th line minutes in the Superleague, thereby stunting his development as a player. Could young Denis learn from Dimitry's mistake? On a site related note, please be advised we have removed Dennis Packard, J.F. Soucy and Gerard Dicaire from the Prospects page in light of the Lightning's decision not to extend them qualifying offers. In Dicaire's place in the top-25 rankings, where he was 25th, we have elevated [url=jay-rosehill]Jay Rosehill[/url] from the North American Minor Pro list. The four new prospects selected Saturday have been added to the Prospects page but we will not be integrating them into the top-25 rankings until the Fall when we release our 2006-2007 Preliminary Rankings. This will allow the prospects to have the opportunity to prove themselves within the framework of the Traverse City tournament and camp as well as the Lightning's training camp, thereby identifying their place in the organizational structure. We believe rankings produced any earlier would be premature. Also note, we have updated the Draft History page to reflect the results of yesterday's Entry Draft. We also will be updating the Draft History page over the summer to include career NHL games played and other basic statistics per site member Abbey's suggestion. This will allow for an at-a-glance analysis of the relative success of the Lightning's drafts over the past 14 years.

Lightning Say Good-Bye to 4

The St. Pete Times is reporting the Lightning did not extend qualifying offers to the following players: Center Martin Cibak (Tampa Bay), Forward J.F. Soucy (San Diego ECHL), Winger Dennis Packard (Johnstown ECHL), and Defenseman Gerard Dicaire (Springfield AHL). The move means all will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Offers were extended to Lightning players Cory Sarich, Evgeni Artyukhin, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Dimitri Afanasenkov. Their rights will be maintained. Cibak was not expected to be back as he split last season between the ice and the press box. With GM Jay Feaster saying he wanted a more physical fourth line that can provide offense, the writing was on the wall for Cibak. This opens the door for either Nick Tarnasky (physical play) or recently signed Eric Perrin (offense) to step in. Both will compete with Tim Taylor for the third line spot, also. Soucy fell out of favor with the organization last season and was loaned out to multiple ECHL teams. Packard, a monster of a forward, never found his game after graduating from Harvard, and Dicaire, a promising young defenseman who almost made the Lightning squad out of junior, unfortunately had to battle injuries, ailments, and Lightning affiliate challenges in his young career.

Draft Tracker

[b]Here are the first 15 picks of the first round:[/b] 1. St. Louis: D Erik Johnson, USNTDP (US) 2. Pittsburgh: C Jordan Staal, Peterborough (OHL) 3. Chicago: C Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (WCHA) 4. Washington: C Nicklas Backstrom, Brynas (SWE) 5. Boston: C Phil Kessel, Minnesota (WCHA) 6. Columbus: C Derrick Brassard, Drummondville (QMJHL) 7. New York (I): RW Kyle Okposo, Des Moines (USHL) 8. Phoenix: C Peter Mueller, Everett (WHL) 9. Minnesota: C James Sheppard, Cape Breton (QMJHL) 10. Florida: C/W Michael Frolik, Kladno (CZE) 11. Los Angeles: G Jonathan Bernier, Lewiston (QMJHL) 12. Atlanta: C Bryan Little, Barrie (OHL) 13. Toronto: C/W Jiri Tlusty, Kladno (CZE) 14. Vancouver: RW Michael Grabner, Spokane (WHL) [b]15. Tampa Bay: G Riku Helenius, Ilves Jr (FIN Jr)[/b]

Jones/Times Mention Three Potential Picks

Work on a deal for a starting goaltender continues [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/24/Lightning/Goalie_still_tops_Lig.shtml]according to this morning's article by Tom Jones in the St. Pete Times[/url], but don't expect the Lightning to go for a goaltender or a defenseman with their top draft choice. Instead, Jones mentions Cape Breton's James Sheppard, Vasteras' Patrik Berglund and Barrie's Bryan Little, all forwards, as potential choices for the Lightning. Interesting note: the Lightning's draft list is apparently only 80 players deep this year because the club is only looking for players which meet their high character standards.

Lightning to Acquire Denis and Move Up??

The Columbus Dispatch [url=http://www.dispatch.com/bluejackets/bluejackets.php?story=dispatch/2006/06/23/20060623-F6-04.html]is reporting two rumors surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus goaltender Marc Denis.[/url] The first scenario, which appears bogus, has the Lightning moving Ruslan Fedotenko, John Grahame and a 2nd round pick for Denis. Grahame, of course, is an unrestricted free agent and the Lightning don't have a 2nd round pick in this draft making the deal impossible. The second rumor involves the Lightning moving the #15 pick and Fredrik Modin to Columbus for Denis and the #6 pick where, presumably, the Lightning would have many quality centers like Derick Brassard to choose from.
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