Scouting Staff Slimmed
With a new General Manager comes a new team philosophy and with a new philosophy comes new priorities. With emphasis being placed on team toughness and current performance, focus is being taken off of the future. In one of his first major moves as General Manager, Jay Feaster has announced that the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Scouting Staff will take a big hit in his reorganization of the team. The Bolts currently have 24 traveling scouts on their payroll. That number will be reduced to 12. Amongst those to go, is ex-Lightning Assistant Coach John Torchetti. The Lightning’s Scouting Department had previously been one of the largest in the league and had been accountable for some of the best draft picks in Lighting history.
Feaster explained, “At the beginning of the year we were handed a pot to work with and if our scouting department takes up $2.1 million and I can reduce that to say, $1 million, then that’s $1.1 million I can put into players salaries.”
More Goaltender Woes
Goaltender Brian Eklund has watched from the sidelines as his team, Brown University, enjoys one of the best streaks in recent team history. Eklund is 3-5-0, while his counter part Yanis Danis, is 11-8-2 with a 1.76 GAA. Putting Eklund, the former number one for Brown, two steps behind.
The last game Eklund appeared in was a 5-2 loss to Yale on January 11th, where he was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 20 shots.
In Eklund’s tenure at Brown, the team has never won more than 6 games a season. Now, with the team finally experiencing success, Eklund is posting the worst performance of his career with a .879 save percentage.
Injuries Open Door for Prospects
Following the Olympic break, Martin Cibak, Nikita Alexeev and Sheldon Keefe (down on a conditioning stint) were recalled from Springfield and are expected to spend most of the remainder of the season in Tampa Bay.
With Martin St. Louis out for the season and Fredrik Modin still 4-6 week away after surgery to repair cartridge in his wrist, the three, who have spent most of the season in the AHL, will have big shoes to fill.
Cibak already has two assists in his first five NHL games, while Alexeev has a goal and assist in 23 games this season.
Lobb Back on the Ice
Just ten weeks after having surgery to repair a knee injury suffered in November, Aaron Lobb has been given clearance to skate. While he is not being rushed by the team, he is way ahead of schedule on his recovery.
Konstantinov Stepping Up
After some much needed time with Tampa Bay Goaltending Coach Jeff Reese, Konstantinov seems to be back on track. After a dismal winter, he has a 2.21 GAA and .938 save percentage for the month of February. A huge improvement from the 3.76 GAA and .899 save percentage we saw through the month of January.
Konstantinov has improved his record to 9-10-0 as the playoff race begins with the Ice Pilots second in the Southeast Division.