Tampa Bay Lightning Update

By Megan Sexton

Tough-Guy &
All-Star Traded in for Experienced Face-Off Man

Rookies
Kyle Freadrich and Nils Ekman seem to have lost their place in the
organization, as they were traded to the New York Rangers on June 30th
for experienced centerman Tim Taylor. 

Ekman
seemed to be caught in a numbers game, but appeared to have proved his worth in
his 43 games with the Lightning throughout the 2000-01 season.  A two-time IHL All-Star, Ekman tallied 9
goals and 11 assist while with Tampa and another 22 goals and 14 assists in 33
games with the Detroit Vipers (IHL).

Freadrich
only appeared in 13 games with the big club and suffered through an
injury-plagued season while in Detroit. 
His notorious battle with Chicago heavyweight Ryan VandenBussche game
him a name late in the 1999-00 season, but he failed to keep the intimidation
factor going.  He squared off when given
the opportunity, but never put on much of a show.  With the acquisition of Matthew Barnaby and Gordie Dwyer still in
the ranks, Freadrich was quickly ousted from the tough-guy role.

Taylor
brings in much needed face-off experience. 
With the team average looming around 40%, they are hoping Taylor will
give that stat a little boost, while providing an experienced voice on the ice
and in the dressing room.  He was stuck
on a checking line in New York, but likely will be able to contribute more in
Tampa. 

Slimming down the
Roster

With
only 10 spots available in Springfield next season, the roster would obviously
have to be cut down.  Tampa Bay did not
submit qualifying offers to Dale Rominski, Jason Podollan, Dan Kesa, Konstantin
Kalmikov and most notably 1996 1st round selection Mario Larocque,
allowing them to become Unrestricted Free Agents.

Larocque
never made it to the level Tampa expected him too.  He was often criticized for poor work ethic and the subject of
taunts from disgruntled fans.  He had
tremendous numbers while playing in the QMJHL, but was never able to carry that
production over.

Tampa
did submit qualifying offers to Marek Posmyk, Mikko Kuparinen, Mike Jones,
Gordie Dwyer and Kaspars Astashenko, who are restricted free agents and
expected to be signed.

Schedule
Released

The
2001-02 Season will open October 5th at home against the
Islanders.  Two nights later, the
cross-state rival Florida Panthers will visit the Palace before the Bolts jump
on the road for a four game western swing. 
They return home for three, then are immediately back on the road for
five.  They will conclude the season in
Sunrise on April 14th. 

Complete 2001-02 Schedule

Ryan Johnson
Returned To East Coast

By
now, Ryan Johnson must know Alligator Ally like the back of his hand.  After being acquired from the Florida
Panthers at the trade deadline last season, Johnson was returned to Florida in
exchange for Center Vaclav Prospal.

Prospal
had 16 points in 34 games with the Panthers, after being acquired mid-way
through the season from Ottawa.  Prospal
was a member of the Senators when Tampa Bay General Manager Rick Dudley was GM
there. 

The
move gives Tampa a top line player to help fill in the gaps.  With the addition of Prospal, Brad Richards
can now be moved from 2nd line center to RW on the top line without
leaving a hole. 

Although
Prospal only hit the 20-goal mark once in his career, Dudley feels he has the
potential to do it again.  And should be
a good contributor for the Bolts.

Goalie Signed

Kevin
Weekes was resigned today, giving Tampa Bay potentially one of the hottest
goaltending tandems in the league. 

“Reaching
a deal with Kevin is one of the most important signings of the summer for our
club,” General Manager Rick Dudley said. “Entering the 2001-02 season, we now
feel our goaltending tandem is as good as any in the National Hockey League.
Kevin is a very important part of that tandem, and to have both he and Nikolai
Khabibulin signed to multi-year deals should be a comforting thought for our
fans.”

With the release of
back-up Wade Flaherty, Dieter Kochan should have a secure spot in Springfield
and Evgeny Konstantinov will get significant time with Pensacola of the
ECHL. 

Profiles Added
& Top 20 List updated

Profiles
have been added for all 14 players drafted and the Top 20 Ranking and Depth
Chart updated.