Nizhnekamsk Cuts Smolenak During KHL Pre-season

Reports have surface on the Czech site that Nizhnekamsk of the KHL has cut Bolt prospect forward Radek Smolenak from its pre-season roster. Smolenak had signed a contract with Nizhnekamsk at the end of May 2009 after his entry level deal with the Lightning expired. Smolenak's defection back to Europe came as a surprise after a somewhat successful six-game debut with Tampa during the 2008-09 season. The 22 year old left winger posted a career year bagging 24 goals and 25 assists along with 165 penalty minutes in 71 games for the AHL Norfolk Admirals after being selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Lightning. Heading into the 2009 summer, it appeared that Smolenak was poised to push for a Lightning roster spot in the 2009-10 training camp, but his decision to forego resigning with Tampa as a restricted free agent signaled that he wasn't interested in the possibility of returning to Norfolk.

"It all happened quickly. I joined the preparatory matches and trained, but the mood overall was very good. In the four games we'd succumbed, then head of the club announced that Neftekhimik issue a bit differently," Smolenak said in a loosely translated quote from the Czech web site. Smolenak further indicated he had no immediate plans as to the next stop for his hockey career, but the Bolts continue to hold his NHL rights after issuing the gritty winger a qualifying offer in June. With the trade of the speedy and physical Evgeny Artyukhin to Anaheim earlier this month, the Lightning may very well still be interested in getting Smolenak back to North America for the 2009-10 season.

Tocchet Loses Interim Label

( The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Rick Tocchet to a multi-year contract to serve as the seventh head coach in team history, executive vice president and general manager Brian Lawton announced Monday. Tocchet becomes the team’s head coach after serving 66 games as interim coach during 2008-09. The job marks Tocchet’s first in the NHL as a permanent head coach.

A source told The Sporting News the deal was 2 years in length, not the standard 3 year deal as expected.

Helenius, Quick to Taste Playoff Action

The Elmira Jackals of the ECHL have announced their playoff roster, and it includes two top Lightning prospects: goaltender Riku Helenius and defenseman Kevin Quick. Both players are slated to join Elmira at the conclusion of their AHL regular seasons with Norfolk. Helenius and Quick are eligible for the ECHL playoffs by virtue of having played in Augusta and Mississippi of the ECHL earlier this season.

Bolts Recall Melichar from Norfolk

Depite the absence of official word from the either the Tampa or Norfolk organizations, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that defenseman Josef Melichar was in the Tampa locker room this morning. He, however, did not participate in the morning skate and likely has to clear waivers at 12:00 pm EDST before an official press release will be issued.

Melichar undoubted is being recalled after Cory Murphy suffered a broken foot in Monday's game against Toronto when he took a Vincent Lecavalier slapshot to the skate in the 2nd period.

Matt Lashoff To Make Lightning Debut

Just as local Tampa Tribune beat writer Erik Erlendsson reported in his blog on Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled defenseman Matt Lashoff from the Norfolk Admirals on an emergency basis today, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. Lashoff is expected to make his Lightning debut in tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lashoff, 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, has skated in 16 games with the Boston Bruins this season, recording an assist and 10 penalty minutes. A 2005 first-round draft choice of the Bruins, Lashoff has appeared in 46 games with Boston during the past three seasons, recording a goal, seven assists and 22 penalty minutes. He played in two games with Norfolk this past weekend, recording two penalty minutes.

A native of East Greenbush, New York, Lashoff has skated in 164 games with Providence of the American Hockey League during the past four seasons, tallying 26 goals, 95 points and 181 penalty minutes. He was selected as a starter for the Planet/USA team at the 2007-08 AHL All-Star Game. Prior to turning pro Lashoff played three seasons of junior hockey with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 16 goals, 93 points and 284 penalty minutes in 162 games.

The Lightning acquired the 22-year-old from Boston on March 4, 2009 with Martins Karsums in exchange for Mark Recchi and second-round draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Bolts Reassign Josef Melichar to Admirals

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned defenseman Josef Melichar to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. There is no word on a possible replacement recall from Norfolk like Matt Lashoff, so it is anticipated that Marek Malik is ready to return to the Lighting lineup.

Melichar, a 6-foot-2, 222-pound native of Ceské Budejovice, Czech Republic, has played in 30 games with the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes this season, recording eight assists. He made his Tampa Bay debut February 12 and has averaged 17:15 in ice time while recording four assists in 15 games with the Lightning.

Melichar has appeared in one game with Norfolk this season, making his Admirals debut on February 8 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He has also appeared in 25 games with Albany of the AHL, recording a goal and five points.

Erik Erlendsson of the Trib says that Lashoff is expected to be called up tomorrow.

AHL Upholds Downie Suspension

The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has unanimously voted to uphold the League suspension levied against Tampa Bay Lightning prospect and Norfolk Admirals right wing Steve Downie last week. The Board convened via conference call this afternoon to hear the Admirals’ appeal.

Downie was suspended for twenty (20) games on Mar. 5 under the provisions of AHL Rule 41.2 for deliberately striking an official with his stick during a Feb. 28 game at Hershey.

Lightning Recall Richard Petiot

The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled overaged prospect defenseman Richard Petiot from the Norfolk Admirals on an emergency basis, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.

Petiot, 26, is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Daysland, Alberta who has skated in 46 AHL games between the Admirals and the Toronto Marlies this season, recording three goals, 14 points and 59 penalty minutes. He made his Admirals debut on Sunday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Originally drafted in the fourth round, 116th overall, by Los Angeles at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Petiot made his NHL debut with the Kings against the Atlanta Thrashers on January 19, 2006, and recorded two penalty minutes in two games with the Kings. He was acquired by the Lightning from Toronto on March 4, 2009 in exchange for Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward, Andy Rogers and a fourth-round pick in 2009.

In 162 career AHL games with the Norfolk, Toronto and Manchester, Petiot has recorded 10 goals, 37 points and 192 penalty minutes. Prior to turning pro Petiot played four seasons at Colorado College (2001-05), tallying 11 goals, 33 points and 220 penalty minutes. In 2005 he helped the Tigers reach the NCAA’s Frozen Four.

Segal Recalled to Tampa, Again

With Gary Roberts announcing his retirement earlier today and Paul Szczechura being a game-time decision tonight with a wrist injury, the Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled right wing Brandon Segal from the Norfolk Admirals.

Segal, 6-foot-2, 214-pounds, appeared in his first career NHL game Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, skating 14:45 and recording one hit, one takeaway and one blocked shot.

Segal has appeared in 52 games with the Admirals this season. His 21 goals and 41 points both rank second on the club. Those marks are also AHL career highs for the sixth-year professional. This season, Segal also has a +1 rating, 70 penalty minutes, four power play goals, one shorthanded goal and two game-winning goals with the Admirals this season.

Segal, Petiot Assigned to Norfolk

The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned right wing Brandon Segal to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today. Segal, 6-foot-2, 214-pounds, appeared in his first career NHL game Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, skating 14:45 and recording one hit, one takeaway and one blocked shot. Segal's reassignment to Norfolk likely comes at the expense of the deadline day acquisition of right wing Martins Karsums, who is expected to be in the lineup for Friday's lineup against the St. Louis Blues.

The Lightning also announced that they have reassigned defenseman Richard Petiot to the Admirals. Petiot, 26, is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Daysland, Alberta. He was acquired by the Lightning yesterday in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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