Bolts Bits – Tampa Bay Update

By Megan Sexton

The Newest Bolt

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a step into the future Tuesday, by signing first round draft pick, Nikita Alexeev.

Alexeev received a three-year rookie contract. Per club policy, the terms were not disclosed.

Alexeev has spent the 2000-01 season with the top OHL team, Erie. He enjoyed a career season (31 goals, 41 assists) while playing along side Brad Boyes. Alexeev also added 13 points (6 goals, 7 assist) to his total, in 10 playoff games.

Among his accomplishments this season, Alexeev was names to the OHL 3rd All-star team. He was also voted the 3rd best skater in the OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll.

Alexeev is currently out of the Otter’s lineup, having suffered a knee injury.

Erie is currently 1-2 in the Western Conference Finals versus Plymouth.

A European Vacation

Nine Tampa Bay Lightning players and prospects have headed to Germany this month. Not for a team vacation, but rather to represent their respective countries in the 2001 IIHF World Championships.

2001 World All-Star Fredrik Modin will be teaming up with prospect Jimmie Olvestad (Djurgarden) for Sweden. Alexander Kharitonov, who caught GM Rick Dudley’s eye in last year’s competition, will return for the Russian team, while defenseman Pavel Kubina will represent the Czech Republic. Detroit Vipers, Thomas Ziegler (Switzerland), Konstantin Kalmikov (Ukraine) and Kaspras Astashenko (Latvia) will all be making appearances for their respective countries. Last but certainly not least, childhood buddies Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards have been given the chance to add yet another accomplishment to their list when they hit the ice for Team Canada.

The Keefe Saga Rolls On

In the latest addition, Sheldon Keefe has been informed he will not be invited to training camp come September. Instead, he will be assigned directly to a minor league camp. A test of pride for Keefe, who refused a minor league assignment to Rochester late in the season, stating he was promised a chance in the NHL and was not being given what he was promised.

Can Keefe suck it up and get his career back on track? He has said publicly that if he is not given a fair chance (consisting of an invitation to camp), he will demand a trade. My advice would be to start packing.

Most fans view the situation with anger towards Keefe for his seemingly selfish behavior. I on the other hand have sympathy for him. He has badly tarnished, if not ruined his reputation and career.

Questionable character is not looked upon kindly around the league. Sure the Senators were willing to accept Yashin back into the lineup, but Yashin is a superstar. Keefe is an unproven prospect, with quite a reputation following him around.

Look for Dudley to unload him as soon as the opportunity arises, unless Keefe does a 180 in the near future and gets himself back on track.

Vipers Finished

Although it has not been officially announced, it is blatantly obvious that the Detroit Vipers have seen their last days. Tampa is currently looking for a new minor league affiliate. The rumors floating around are all pointing to Rochester, whose contract with the Buffalo Sabres is up this year. An official announcement should be forthcoming.

The Top 20 Prospect List and the Player Rankings have been updated

Look for profiles to be updated and added throughout the off-season.