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European Club Team Rankings

In quite impressive fashion, [url=http://www.hockeyarchives.info/top.htm]hockeyarchives.com has released their ranking of the top 250 European club teams.[/url] The rankings are based on both the 2005-2006 season as well as previous seasons' performances in both league play and interleague play. The rankings help paint a portrait of which Lightning prospects are playing for top level franchises and which have latched on with lesser clubs: The top 10 are: 1. Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS) [b]2. Ak Bars Kazan (RUS), Dimitri Kazionov[/b] 3. HV 71 Jonkoping (SWE) 4. Karpat Oulu (FIN) 5. Frolunda Goteburg (SWE) 6. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS) 7. Avangard Omsk (RUS) 8. Slavia Prague (CZE) 9. Farjestad (SWE) [b]10. Linkopings (SWE), [url=andreas-holmqvist]Andreas Holmqvist[/url][/b]

Springfield AHL's Most Improved Team?

Canoe.ca columnist Patrick Williams gives his list of offseason winners and losers in the AHL and Springfield not only comes out in the "winners" category, but Williams suggests the Falcons may be the league's most improved team. Williams cites the potential additions of defensemen Andy Delmore and Doug Janik, as well as center Eric Perrin as reasons for Falcons fans to be optimistic this year. Williams also mentions Johan Holmqvist as a possibility, but it is doubtful the Swede will be in Springfield to begin the year.

R-2 Headed for Holdout?

Erik Erlendsson of the [i]Tampa Tribune[/i] reports today that negotiations are not going well between the Lightning and restricted free agent winger Evgeny Artyukhin. "I'm not sure what his thinking is right now," Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster told the [i]Tribune[/i]. "Some of the things his agent has told us are very inconsistent with his role and bargaining position." "R-2," or "Arty" as he's called by his teammates, is projected to have a significant role in the Lightning's future, but struggled at the end of last season and saw his minutes fall considerably. He finished the year with four goals and 13 assists in 72 games. In the playoffs, Artyukhin was up to just over 8 minutes a game and added a goal. Artyukhin is the only member of the Lightning yet to be signed, and it doesn't appear that will happen any time soon. Of note: The article also lists cap hits for every player currently under contract with the Lightning and expected to make the parent club.

NMU Coach: NHL Contract Could be in the Cards for Collins

Today, the [i]Arizona Republic[/i] published an article stating the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona, would finally be getting an ice rink. According to Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dusty Collins, Gilbert's favorite son, it's coming just a little too late as Collins was in town to prepare for this week's Lightning Prospect Camp but had trouble finding ice on which to practice. While the fact that Gilbert, Arizona may be getting an ice rink affects little to no one among Lightning prospect followers, the fact that the article sheds some light on Collins' future should. Collins, a 6-3 center for Northern Michigan University (NMU), was a surprise fifth round pick of the Lightning in 2004 because of his work ethic -- a prioritized ingredient for choosing who does and does not receive a contract offer for Tampa Bay.

Bolts Sign Sarich, Avoid Arbitration

Tampabaylightning.com is reporting the Lightning have re-signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a one-year, $1.9 million contract. The deal allows the Lightning and Sarich to avoid a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for July 31. Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster stated in the official press release that Sarich left some money on the table in order to fit into the team's stretched financial structure. Sarich, 27, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan played in all 82 games for the third consecutive season in 2005-06, recording a goal, 14 assists and 79 penalty minutes. In 2003-04 he was one of three defensemen to appear in all 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Lightning.
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