Photo: Vladislav Namestnikov is the second ranked prospect in
Tampa Bay's Spring top-20. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect pool emerged as the unofficial league leaders in feel-good stories this season. The AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals set a new record with an incredible 27 straight wins to finish the season and swept the award elections for the first time ever. AHL Coach of the Year Jon Cooper took a bow with AHL Defenseman of the Year Mark Barberio and AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher. Read more»
Canadian forward Brett Connolly and his teammates came to the 2012 World Junior Championship with their sites set on winning a gold medal. Instead, they’ll be taking home a bronze medal after defeating Finland on the last day of the tournament.
Connolly talked about winning the bronze and the disappointment of not winning gold at the 2012 WJC.
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»