The European regular season will begin tomorrow, 9/1 with matches from the Russian junior league, the MHL, before the big boys start on Tuesday when Dynamo Moscow and Avangard Omsk square off in the KHL. For the Lightning's Russian prospects, their clubs' schedules for the next week are as follows:
9-1-12, Omsk Jr. vs. CSKA Jr. (Gusev)
9-4-12, Orenburg vs. Ufa Jr. (Vasilevski)
9-5-12, Orenburg vs. Ufa Jr. (Vasilevski)
9-5-12, Chelyabinsk Jr. (Nesterov) vs. Novokuznetsk Jr.
9-5-12, Stupino vs. CSKA Jr. (Gusev)
9-6-12, Chelyabinsk Jr. (Nesterov) vs. Novokuznetsk Jr.
9-6-12, Stupino vs. CSKA Jr. (Gusev)
9-6-12, Novosibirsk vs. Yaroslavl (Janus?)
9-6-12, Kazan vs. Cherepovets (Koshechkin)
Note that, as of right now, Nikita Gusev (pictured), Andrei Vasilevski, and Nikita Nesterov are currently listed on their respective clubs' MHL rosters, but are subject to potential call-up to the KHL throughout the year. Vasilevski looks to be locked into the MHL though, with Ufa's top club currently boasting veteran goaltender and former Canadiens draft pick Vadim Tarasov and ex-Syracuse Crunch netminder Iiro Tarkki.
Meanwhile, Yaroslavl may be the landing spot for goaltender Jaroslav Janus, according to reports out of Slovakia. Janus has been playing for KHL newcomer Bratislava during the preseason, but it appears he has been compelled to leave the Slovakian club by Yaroslavl, which holds his KHL draft rights, because the team is thin in net between inexperienced Nikita Lozkhin and their struggles to get Curtis Sanford in their lineup. So, Janus may even find himself playing on an emotional opening night for a Yaroslavl club he hasn't even played a preseason game behind. Recall a year ago that Yaroslavl's team perished in a tragic plane crash that led to the team pulling out of participating in the KHL last year.
According to the the HC Slovan Bratislava website, Lightning prospect goaltender Jaroslav Janus will be taking his talents to his native Slovakia. Janus reportedly signed a tryout agreement with Slovan. The fourth-year pro is looking for a No.1 goaltending position after being nudged out of the Lightning's AHL plans when Tampa Bay signed goalies Anders Lindback and Riku Helenius. Lindback in Tampa with Mathieu Garon keeps Dustin Tokarski in the AHL and Helenius takes Janus' spot as Tokarski's tandem partner.
The Lightning encouraged Janus' move to Europe as it will give him the best chance for more playing time - which is exactly what he needs at this point in his development. The club made it clear they continue to view Janus, 22, as a legitimate NHL prospect.
Last season, Janus won 23 games with Norfolk, posting one shutout, a 2.36 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. He broke Tokarski's record for most consecutive wins by a Norfolk goaltender when he finished the season with 15 straight victories. The 2009 sixth round pick went 3-1 in the playoffs as the Admirals won the Calder Cup, accumulating one shutout, a 1.69 GAA, and .937 save percentage.
HC Slovan currently has two goaltenders on their big club, per KHL.ru: 24-year-old Branislav Konrad, who has played 116 games for the club over the past three years, and 27-year-old Ville Hostikka, who played 33 games in Finland for Karpat last season.
It appears Lightning goaltending prospect Jaroslav Janus, formerly of the Norfolk Admirals, will head to Europe next season.
Julien BriseBois, general manager for the Lightning's top affiliate in Syracuse and assistant GM for the NHL club, told both Tampa Bay Times reporter Damian Cristodero and Syracuse Post-Standard writer Lindsay Kramer that Janus is looking for a place to play in Europe.
"He's someone who might play in the NHL and who we're still interested in working with," BriseBois told Cristodero. "We get to follow him for a year and re-evaluate where everyone stands a year from now."
Janus is an unsigned restricted free agent, meaning the Lightning don't have to sign him to maintain his rights through next season. Riku Helenius, a recent signee by Tampa Bay and who ironically may have pushed Janus out of an AHL job, played the last few seasons in Europe as an unsigned RFA.
At this point in his development, Janus is ready to take the mantle as a team's No.1 goaltender for a full season. He had spurts as the No.1 with AHL Norfolk when Dustin Tokarski was injured, ineffective, or called up to Tampa Bay, but has never been the unquestioned No.1 for a long period of time. The best thing for Janus' journey to the NHL is to get plenty of starts, and depending on where he ends up, he should get the ice time he needs to take the next step.
Looking ahead, a year from now the Lightning will be without Mathieu Garon, but will have Anders Lindback, Helenius, and Tokarski under contract. Helenius and Tokarski are expected to split time in the AHL this year. Janus will have to leapfrog two of the three goalies projected to be ahead of him to get a spot in Tampa. Coming back to the AHL may also be an option.
Janus won 23 games last year with Norfolk, posting one shutout, a 2.36 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. He broke Tokarski's record for most consecutive wins by a Norfolk goaltender when he finished the season with 15 straight victories. The 2009 sixth round pick went 3-1 in the playoffs as the Admirals won the Calder Cup, accumulating one shutout, a 1.69 GAA, and .937 save percentage.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they had extended qualifying offers to five of their eight pending restricted free agents. Defensemen Keith Aulie, Brian Lee, Brendan Mikkelson, and Evan Oberg along with goaltender Jaroslav Janus received the required offers to guarantee the Bolts retain exclusive rights to these players. It is expected that Tampa will come to terms with contract extensions with these five players sometime during the summer.
Recently required goaltender Anders Lindback received a qualifying offer from the Nashville Predators prior to his trade to the Lightning last week.
Defenseman Sebastien Piche and forward Benoit Pouliot were not tendered qualifying offers, and will be unrestricted free agents on July 1. Pouliot was acquired Saturday from the Boston Bruins during the 2012 NHL Draft, and is expected to sign an extension with the Bolts prior to start of the NHL free agency signing period on Sunday. Pouliot has arbitration rights as a pending restricted free agent, and the Lightning's decision not to qualify Pouliot is speculated as a means to circumvent Pouliot electing player arbitration later this summer.
Piche was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the Kyle Quincey/First Round Pick trade. The Red Wings needed a spot in their 50-man roster and Piche was sent to Tampa Bay. He was one of the leaders for the ECHL Florida Everblades as they won the Kelly Cup. The writing was on the wall for Piche's future when the third year pro was not recalled to Norfolk following the conclusion of Florida's season.
Bolt Prospects' draft coverage begins with the goaltending position, which has been a perennial sore spot since the founding of the franchise. With the exception of short runs by Darren Puppa in the early days of the team and Nikolai Khabibulin leading up to the team's Stanley Cup run in 2003-2004, the Lightning have always seemed to face uncertainty between the pipes.