Pete Choquette's blog

The Cold Blooded Truth

Coach Tortorella went on a poigniant profanity laced tirade tonight after the game with the best of his vitriol aimed towards Eric Boulton and his cheap shot elbow on young Paul Ranger. [url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Games/2005/10/20/1271536-ap.html]"The . . . guy should be playing in the . . . East Coast Hockey League, but instead he takes out a . . . NHLer," Tortorella said. "He'll be suspended, but who . . . cares? No one wants to see him on the ice anyway."[/url] Eric Boulton may have gotten away with his disgusting act of cowardice tonight by the grace of the officials ushering him out of the building quicker than Colonel Parker got Elvis off the stage in Vegas back-in-the-day, but sans a reprieve from Hartley in the form of a scratch or the league in the form of a well intentioned but ill timed suspension Boulton will have to face retribution Saturday October 29th. Circle it on your calendar Eric Boulton. And if I may [url=http://www.tampabaylightning.com/prdetail.cfm?pressreleaseID=1111&category=3]suggest to tool of Eric Boulton's execution.[/url] I'd tell Fritzy to put him in the morgue.

Silver Lining

If you're looking for a silver lining tonight after the disgraceful effort against the Panthers, and you're looking to the junior ranks to deliver it, Radek Smolenak has you covered with the Gordie Howe hat trick in Kingston's 7-2 pole axing of Brampton. The 2005 third round draft choice now has 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points and 19 PIMs in 7 games for the Frontenacs. He has managed a point in each of his last 6 games.

It's a Small World After All

Fans of teams in the Southern half of the US have been at a general disadvantage in following their prospects. The distance between folks in Tampa and destinations from Moscow to Moose Jaw made it nearly impossible to keep tabs on their future players leaving them to rely on static sources of information like the once a year THN Future Watch edition or sites like Hockey's Future which struggle to update content on a monthly basis. Times are changing though. The internet allows real time posting of scores from around the globe. Bolt Prospects is taking advantage of the net to present information from a dozen leagues world wide as it occurs with commentary from a Lightning perspective. And now, the internet is looking like it will hold even more in the future for prospect watchers with cybercasts.

Opinion: What The 2005-2006 Falcons Roster Will Look Like

Fran Sypek of the Republican did [url=http://www.masslive.com/falcons/republican/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/1127348101241090.xml&coll=1#continue]a good, concise writeup on the impending Falcons training camp Wednesday after the Lightning reassigned 18 players to Springfield.[/url] So, with the Falcons' beat writer breaking the tape I believe it can be officially declared that speculating on Springfield's roster to be fair game. In this blog entry I'll give a good crack at it.

Commentary: What We Learned At Traverse City

Prospect tournaments are a very important part of the developmental apparatus of an NHL organization. I made this case pretty emphatically a few years ago on another website in another job: there are few better diagnostic tools for an organization than a prospect tournament to help evaluate the relative strength of a crop of players as well as to sort out their initial place inside an organization.

Opinion: Why Springfield Matters More Than Ever

Today the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a trifecta of sorts [url=http://www.tampabaylightning.com/prdetail.cfm?pressreleaseID=1126&category=3]signing RW Martin St. Louis to a six year deal. [/url] Over the past two seasons, the core of the Tampa Bay Lightning has been, in my opinion, Dan Boyle, Nikolai Khabibulin, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis. The unfortunate reality of the new CBA was that GM Jay Feaster was forced to try and re-sign 4 of his 5 core players under restrictive circumstances. Given the difficulties Feaster managed to sign Boyle, Lecavalier and St. Louis, and 3 out of 4 ain't bad. This is especially true considering the Lightning locked up one of it's two most important components (the other being Brad Richards) [url=http://www.tampabaylightning.com/prdetail.cfm?pressreleaseID=1122&category=3]Vincent Lecavalier to a 4 year deal.[/url] Lecavalier's [url=http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story.asp?id=133790]reported $27.5 million dollar contract[/url] seemed to spark a lot of controversy within the Lightning fan base, however. Lightning fans asked how the team could be held together with Vinny making so much money. They wondered if the deal would force out St. Louis or possibly Pavel Kubina or Brad Richards next season. And, above all, they cursed teams like Boston and Calgary for raising the contracts of young superstars like Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla to the stratospheric heights of over $6 million dollars a season. Indeed, it's sometimes hard for me to believe a penny conscious team like Bill Davidson's Tampa Bay Lightning just committed roughly $50 million dollars to two players in the span of just a week. Is this the shape of the new NHL?

Lightning to Carry Roster of 20

Jay Feaster announced during today's press conference to mark the signing of Vincent Lecavalier's four year deal with the club that the team intends to carry a roster of the minimum 20 players. For the Lightning's prospects this likely means only the #6 defenseman spot will be available for Lightning youth looking to make the team. It also will likely squeeze center Eric Perrin out of a roster spot, perhaps fueling rumors he is planning to return to Europe this season.

Erlendsson Speculates Lightning May Go With Rookies On D

In his Friday column Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune [url=http://bolts.tbo.com/lightning/MGBD8PES9CE.html]speculated the team's cap situation may force the Lightning to carry one or two rookie defensemen on the roster on opening night.[/url] That's a pretty fair expectation and at the very minimum I suspected the Lightning would put one of the rookies into the #7 defenseman slot at the league minimum for economic reasons. Erlendsson lists several prospects as potential options and, in particular, highlights Swiss stay-at-home defenseman Timo Helbling. Helbling, you might remember, checked in at #5 on my personal list of overage Lightning prospects. Here's my handicapping of the situation:

Commentary: Veteran Mentorship

Let me start this commentary by throwing out some Lightning trivia. Did you know the maximum number of appearances made in an NHL season by a goaltender the Lightning drafted is 16 by Zac Bierk? Did you know that in total goaltenders drafted by the Lightning have made 94 total appearances, 382 less than Nikolai Khabibulin alone? In fact, did you know John Grahame has played in more NHL games (122) than every goaltender drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning combined? This week the Lightning signed goaltenders Jonathan Boutin and Gerald Coleman to entry-level deals in hopes of turning the tide on 13 seasons worth of draft futility between the pipes. Both could have talented careers as pros, but something troubled me this week that I want to talk about. The team has been floating the trial balloon that both goaltenders may split time in the team's ECHL affiliate in Johnstown. Let me explain why I think that trial ballon should be shot down, flogged, lit on fire and then buried.

McKeen's Mock and Small Player Slippage

[url=http://mckeenshockey.rivals.com/draft.asp?Draft=52]McKeen's hockey has released their mock draft[/url] and has Swedish winger [url=http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=2045] Nicklas Bergfors[/url] falling to the Lightning's pick at #30. A tip of the hat to Johan Nilsson of [url=http://www.eliteprospects.com/]Eliteprospects.com[/url]. Bergfors, the brother of Lightning prospect Henrik Bergfors, is slated to come to North America as an import to play in the QMJHL next season. While I don't necessarily see Bergfors, the top Swedish born prospect in this draft, falling all the way to 30 this mock is far more realistic with regard to the Lightning's pick than [url=http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/3821944]FoxSport's[/url], [url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=7795]Hockeysfuture's[/url] and even [url=http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/draft/feature.asp?fid=7065]TSN's [/url]which have the Lightning selecting D Risto Korhonen, G Alexandre Vincent and G Ondrej Pavelec respectively.
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