Off-season Bolts and Pieces

By Pete Choquette

Off-season Bolts and Pieces

After making a remarkable recovery from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his wrist, defenseman Andreas Holmqvist has debuted with his new SEL team Linkoping. After moving up from the second tier club Hammarby, on which Holmqvist was his team’s second leading scorer last season, the young two-way defenseman has seen his offensive game transfer over well in elite level play. Linkoping is 5-2-1 in preseason, and Holmqvist, who assisted in the team’s first game against the Finnish club TPS Abo, had a goal in his team’s second contest against IK Orkarshamn, and he has been a steady offensive contributor ever since.

Evgeni Artukhin has made an immediate physical impact since coming over from the CSKA Moscow club to play Canadian junior for Moncton of the QMJHL. Although, in two preseason games, Artukhin has yet to hit the scoresheet, he has stood out for his size, strength, speed and stickhandling ability. And then, of course, there was “the fight” against top league heavyweight and Anaheim prospect George Davis in which the enormous 6’5″ 239 lb. Artukhin more than held his own. The Moncton papers, as well as his coach and teammates, applauded the native of Moscow’s triumphant first fight of his career. He is penciled onto the team’s first line for the upcoming campaign.

The Kingston Frontenacs are still holding out slim hope that they can secure center Dimitri Kazionov’s release from Lada Togliatta of the Russian Superleague for the upcoming season. However, with Kazionov assuming that team’s fourth line center spot in preseason tournaments, it seems doubtful they will be able to get him to come to North America for 2002-2003. Local news reports in Kingston state that Kazionov will attend Lightning training camp, however he is not listed on Tampa’s training camp roster.

The prospects who are certainly going to be at Lightning training camp are headlined by winger Aaron Lobb. Lobb, along with Montreal’s JF Soucy and Artukhin will be attending due to the fact their signing deadlines will be approaching at the end of this season. Defenseman Gerard Dicaire, whose contract talks broke off with some acrimony, will not attend and is already in Cranbrook preparing for Kootenay’s Memorial Cup title defense.

2002 second round pick Adam Henrich has seen action in two of Brampton’s three exhibition games to date, notching a goal in the Battalion’s opener vs. Guelph, a 5-3 victory. Lightning prospect and Guelph winger Aaron Lobb did not dress for the game. Henrich faced Lightning prospect and Oshawa defensman Paul Ranger in both team’s second pre-season game, though neither player hit the scoresheet in a 4-2 Oshawa win.

Henrik Bergfors has transferred from Sodertajle’s J-20 squad to the Orebro Pirates of the Swedish second tier league. The physical Bergfors, an avid hip hop aficionado, will play alongside fellow Lightning hopeful Johan Hagglund, who made the jump from J-20 to HC Orebro last year.

Dimitri Bezrukov has transferred from Neftekhimik of the Russian Superleague to Spartak Moscow.

Sascha Goc has left North America to play with his brother, Sharks prospect Marcel Goc, with Adler Mannheim of the DEL.

Fredrik Norrena, who posted a shutout in his preseason debut with Vastra Frolunda of the SEL, was named along with fellow Lightning prospect Eero Somervuori to the Finnish national team for an upcoming tournament in the Czech Republic (another minor triumph for the oft ignored Somervuori). The European Chamionship tour will feature Finland, Sweden, Russia, and the Czech Republic. Norrena’s club team, the Indians, is captained by former Lightning penalty killing stalwart Mikael Andersson.

Marek Posmyk has transferred from Zlin of the Czech elite league to HC Slavia.

Lightning minor leaguers Jeremy Van Hoof, , Marek Priechodsky, Harlan Pratt, Michal Lanicek and Kenton Smith will be sent directly to either Springfield or Pensacola’s training camps before embarking on their respective 2002-2003 campaigns. There are still rumors floating around that Lanicek will return to his native Czech Republic after playing the majority of last year, his first in North America, for Muskegon in the UHL. Matt Elich will be attending Springfield’s camp when signed. After not accepting his qualifying offer, the restricted free agent remains the only Lightning RFA who hasn’t agreed to a new contract.

AHL level players Dimitry Afanasenkov, Gordie Dwyer, Martin Cibak, Ryan Tobler, Mathieu Biron, Mike Jones, and Kristian Kudroc as well as goaltenders Brian Eklund and Evgeny Konstantinov, will be joining the festivities in Brandon which commence September 12th with physicals and team photos.

*Chad Schnarr contributed to this report.