Lightning Minor Pro Report

By Chad Schnarr

American Hockey League

LW Dimitry AfanasenkovGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Spr/GR (AHL)4656116E
2001-2002 Tampa Bay (NHL)50000(-1)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20000(-3)

Dimitry is coming off an impressive training camp that caught the favorable eye of Tampa GM Jay Feaster. He must produce in the AHL in order to earn a call-up, however. He started the year playing left wing next to Martin Cibak.

LW Nikita AlexeevGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Springfield (AHL)35591416(-8)
2001-2002 Tampa Bay (NHL)444488(-9)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 21012(-4)

Alexeev will likely be the top forward call-up this season for Tampa. Nikita showed off his much-improved shot when he took a Jeff Taffe pass, turned, and fired a shot past Portland goalie Maxime Oullet on the power play. He started the year next to Taffe, a Phoenix first-rounder, and the recently demoted Shane Willis.

C Martin CibakGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Springfield (AHL)52591444(-10)
2001-2002 Tampa Bay (NHL)261568(-6)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20004(-1)

According to Jay Feaster, Cibak will likely be Tampa’s second call-up option next to Alexeev. Cibak started the year centering the Falcon’s third line next to Afanasenkov and Erik Westrum.

RW Matt ElichGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Springfield (AHL)222244(-3)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 00000E

The speedy Elich hasn’t seen any game-action so far this season. He will likely shuffle between ECHL Pensacola and AHL Springfield for most of the year.

2001-2002 Hartford (AHL)78172239193NA
2001-2002 Hartford (Playoffs)1012350NA
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20004(-1)

The gritty Kane was acquired right before the Falcon’s first regular season game from the New York Rangers organization. Tampa sent winger Gordie Dwyer to the Rangers in exchange for Kane’s services. Compared to the Lightning’s Sheldon Keefe, Kane will add a physical dimension to the organization’s minor league cast. He will provide more offense to the club than Dwyer, which is a positive. The trade was made so close to the opener that Kane was unable to practice with the club before the puck dropped, starting the season.

G Evgeny KonstantinovW-L-TGAASv%SO
2001-2002 Pensacola (ECHL)10-10-03.47.9010
2001-2002 Springfield (AHL)1-2-01.69.9260
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 0-1-04.13.8620

Konstantinov was named the starter for opening night by coach Marty McSorely and Konstantinov performed well, but took the loss. He will likely split goaltending duties with Patrick DesRochers this season, but with good play could earn more starts. As of right now, he remains the Lightning’s emergency (third) goaltender.

D Kristian KudrocGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Spr/Phi (AHL)6501111140(-3)
2001-2002 Phi (Playoffs)511221(+1)
2001-2002 Tampa Bay (NHL)20000E
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 10000E

Kudroc took a hit from Hartford enforcer Garrett Burnett that smashing his head against the glass and caused Kristian to lose his balance. He fell back on the ice, hitting his head again, causing him to lose consciousness. After gaining consciousness, he left the ice on a stretcher and will be out at least three weeks with a concussion. He has yet to receive medical clearance to begin skating or even riding the stationary bike. Phoenix prospect Martin Grenier rightfully retaliated and fought Burnett, though Springfield GM Bruce Landon said the hit was clean. Kudroc is Tampa’s ninth defenseman, behind number-eight Darren Rumble, and should see NHL ice some time this season.

D Harlan PrattGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Fla/Pen (ECHL)302151718(+4)
2001-2002 Pensacola (Playoffs)30442(-1)
2001-2002 Spr/Low (AHL)361101123(+3)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20000(+1)

There was much speculation about who was going to land the Lightning’s third defensive position in Springfield. That honor went to Harlan, who has impressed so far by being one of the few Falcons to be on the positive side of zero +/-.

D Darren Rumble< /td> GPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Worcester (AHL)603293248NA
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20220(-6)

The Lightning’s top defensive call-up, Rumble had a decent first game, notching two assists. However, he was an abysmal -5 in game two, a 6-2 loss to Portland. With the possible addition of Deron Quint to the Falcon’s roster, Rumble could see his ice time take a small hit. It shouldn’t affect him too much as Martin Grenier has been recalled to the Coyotes.

LW Ryan ToblerGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Springfield (AHL)73172441215(-13)
2001-2002 Tampa Bay (NHL)40005(-2)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 200013(+2)

Tobler is seeing second line ice time as well as significant power play time. He is able to contribute both physically and on the scoresheet. Whether or not he sees NHL ice this season is somewhat of a longshot. Tobler’s a good ways down the depth chart and failed to impress during a cup-of-coffee last year in Tampa.

RW Shane Willis GPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Car/TB (NHL)8011132430(-8)
2002-2003 Springfield (AHL) 20000(-4)

Willis passed through waivers just in time to make the Falcon’s opener against Hartford. He was not able to practice with the team prior to the first game. He will be counted on to provide offense and leadership to the young Falcons club, but must also prove to the Lightning he’s too good to play in the AHL. He must give more effort in his game, as well as regain his confidence. He had a chance to cut a 4-2 Hartford lead in half late in the third period of the opener, but shot wide on a breakaway. He only managed one shot in the second game.

East Coast Hockey League

G Brian EklundW-L-TGAASv%SO
2001-2002 Brown (ECAC)3-5-03.96.8710
2002-2003 Pensacola (ECHL) 1-0-04.00.8570

Eklund started the Ice-Pilot’s second game of the year and gained the win in a 5-4 win over Baton Rouge. Eklund is currently fourth on Tampa’s goalie depth chart. He will benefit from playing on a successful hockey club in Pensacola, but will be backing up Maxime Gingras for most of the season.

D Marek PriechodskyGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Pensacola (ECHL)523111433(+15)
2001-2002 Pensacola (Playoffs)30000(-1)
2002-2003 Pensacola (ECHL) 20004(+1)

Priechodsky is looking to build on a solid first year in North America, where he finished an impressive +15 and showed good two-way ability. He will not be forced to carry the defensive load in Pensacola, which will be good for his development.

D Jeremy Van HoofGPGAPPIM+/-
2001-2002 Pensacola (ECHL)722141686(+26)
2001-2002 Pensacola (Playoffs)30009(-2)
2002-2003 Pensacola (ECHL) 21010(+3)

Van Hoof continued where he left off last season by showing smart and simple defensive play in Pensacola’s first two games. A stay-at-home defenseman, Van Hoof may be in Springfield before year’s end.

*Pete Choquette contributed to this report.