Canada will fall short of their expectation of bringing home gold at the 2012 World Junior Championship. The team lost to Russia, 6-5, in the semi-final game that was a rematch of last year’s gold medal game.
One player who has contributed to the success Canada achieved at this year’s WJC is forward Brett Connolly. Connolly scored in each of Canada’s five games so far at this tournament. Connolly talked about his team’s 6-5 loss to Russia in the 2012 WJC semi-final game.
The Lightning have dipped into the free agent market and snagged a little one. The Bolts have signed Calgary Flames free agent Martin St. Louis. St. Louis is a 5’9” 180 lb. C/RW that registered 18 points for Calgary in 53 games last season. He was exposed for the expansion draft then his contract was bought out making him a free agent. GM Rick Dudley thinks he has an offensive upside that hasn’t appeared yet. The one thing he has is speed. What Dudley has done is what he has been doing since he arrived in Tampa adding young and speedy players.
Other than St. Louis, the Bolts have been quiet in free agency. They have opted to sign their own this summer. Players like Brian Holzinger, Dwayne Hay, Fredrik Modin, Steve Martins, Dan Cloutier and Todd Warriner have all re-signed. This has created an environment that the Bolts have not had for several years. Unlike the past few years the major makeup of the team won’t drastically change in the off-season. This allows this young group to continue to gel.
So for the rest of the summer don’t look for the organization to go after any big name free agents (probably because that cupboard is dry), but don’t be surprised to see a few key player to be added via trade. Dudley and staff seem content to build around this group adding more young complimentary players to bolster the line-up.
The Tampa Bay Lightning made some significant strides toward rebuilding their team in the 2000 draft. Here are the moves as they are viewed by the organization.
First, the trade for Kevin Weekes. The original plan was to add a veteran goaltender to help Dan Clouthier’s progression. This was probably a good idea at first, but considering the cost of a veteran goalie and the fact that who would really teach someone to take their job, not really feasible. Weekes came on strong at the end of last season and should be on the brink of breaking out. He is an athletic player and just needs a little seasoning. He should push Cloutier for the number spot and if nothing else is a very capable backup. The key to that trade though was actually the defenseman, Kristian Kudroc. The Lightning wanted Kudroc last year and would have selected him in the 2nd round. The Islanders traded up to get him though. Kudroc is big, tough, and has an immense upside. He is just another of the vast stable of blue liners that Tampa Bay has amassed. Read more»
If the 2000 NHL Entry Draft did anything, for the Lightning, it added depth to a young talented pool of prospects. The Bolts went in with three goals: add a goaltender that will contribute immediately, add some goaltending depth, and add a group of talented forwards to the system. All of these goals appear to be accomplished. By trading the number five selection (plus a fourth and seventh round picks), the Lightning added goaltender Kevin Weekes and defenseman Kristian Kudroc from the New York Islanders. Instead of adding a veteran to mentor Dan Cloutier, the lightning added another kid to push Cloutier. The throw in to the deal is Kudroc. He simply adds to the already ample defense core of the Bolts. He does. However, bring a big body (6’6” 230 lbs.), more physical style of play, and the ability to put up some points.
Once the Lightning were done playing the trading game, they were able to draft an entire line of Russian forwards. With the eight overall selection GM Rick Dudley chose Nikita Alexeev. Alexeev is big and fast, and hopefully able to generate some offense. He will score most of his points from in close, but also has the speed to create his own offense. He will need to improve his puck handling before he is able to blow by opponents. He is compared to Calgary Flames winger, and ex-bolt, Andrei Nazarov but with better hands. In the second round, Dudley took solid 6’2” 202lbs. Winger Read more»
Just hours after the Lightning lost goalie of the future Zac Bierk, the Bolts have reportedly replaced him and added a defenseman in the process. The Tampa Tribune is reporting that a deal has been completed between the Lightning and Islanders. The Lightning would give the Islanders the number 5 selection in today’s draft, while the Islanders would send goaltender Kevin Weekes and a prospect (reportedly monster 6’9” 255lbs. defenseman Zdeno Chara).
Weekes played outstanding following his trade to the Islanders from the Canucks a season ago, posting a .902 save percentage on the island. Coach Steve Ludzik is very familiar with Weekes after coaching him with the Detroit Vipers in the 1998-99 season where he posted 19 victories. Chara brings the Lightning what they severely lack on defense, size. However it also just creates a larger logjam on the Bolts blueline. This will lead to trade speculation involving some of the younger defensemen in the Lightning cupboard, especially if they add a veteran D-man.
The deal will also leave the Bolts with the number 8 selection, which they should use, on a scoring forward. Alexei Smirnov, Martin Samuelsson, and Nikita Alexeev are just a few of the prospects that should be available. But GM Rick Dudley’s wheeling and dealing may not be over. There Read more»