European Leagues

The Prospect Season Starts Next Week

Lightning training camp is still a few weeks off with the regular season set to begin on October 9th. But, here at BoltProspects, the prospect season begins Wednesday, September 8th, when KHL defending champs Ak Bars Kazan square off with UHC Dynamo Moscow, which is a new club formed when Dynamo Moscow and KHK MVD merged this offseason. Kazan features 2002 Lightning draft pick Dmitri Kazionov, while Dynamo is now the home of former Lightning draft pick Ruslan Zainullan.

The 2010-2011 season will be BoltProspects' sixth season covering the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. The staff of BoltProspects would like to thank our readers and express our excitment to start yet another season.

Riga Releases Simek

The blog Latvian Hockey is reporting forward Juraj Simek has been released from his tryout with KHL club Dynamo Riga. Simek, who scored a career high 21 goals and 36 points last season with Norfolk in the AHL, was cut loose after just two exhibition games with the team. Riga's decision may open the door for the Lightning to re-sign the speedy, two-way forward. In three professional seasons in the AHL, Simek had 37 goals and 75 points in 204 regular season games.

Karsums Signs Two-Year Deal with Dynamo Riga

Latvian media outlet apollo.lv is reporting that Lightning forward prospect Martins Karsums has signed a two-year contract with Dynamo Riga of the KHL. Karsums was loaned to Riga during last season, and has had a somewhat protracted negotiation process this summer to formally sign with his hometown club. Karsums and Riga agreed last week to a letter of intent. Training camp for the 2010-11 season started today and will last until July 30.

Lightning Ink Big Euro Forward Niklas Persson

Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed big Swedish forward Niklas Persson to a one-year, two-way contract on Friday. For the undrafted 31 year-old late bloomer, the signing marks the realization of a childhood dream to have a shot to play in the NHL.

Persson played last season for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik in the KHL, and three seasons for Linkoping before his KHL tour. During that four year span, the 6'02", 205 lbs forward, tallied 59 goals and 84 assists in 219 games. Persson won bronze medals with Team Sweden in both the 2009 and 2010 World Championships along with the Elitserian SM silver medal in 2007 and 2008 with Linkoping.

Persson told Aftonbladet, "I go over to take a place in the NHL. That is where I want to play, absolutely. I have written a two-way contract, and there is certainly a way out if I need it, but I have no other thoughts than to play in the NHL. At worst, I may play in the AHL and show that I'll have a chance. I will not leave home without an honest attempt."

"It's a childhood dream come true."

Confirmed: Simek Signs Tryout Deal With Dynamo Riga

The blog Latvian Hockey is confirming that forward Juraj Simek, who has played in the Lightning organization for the past two seasons with Norfolk, has signed a tryout deal with KHL club Dynamo Riga. Dynamo Riga was also the club last season for fellow Lightning prospect Martins Karsums.

Koshechkin to Mytischi?

Russian website championat.ru is reporting a rumor sourced to Sport-Express that goaltender Vasily Koshechkin may possibly play next season for KHL club Mytischi. Koshechkin split last season between Togliatti and Magnitogorsk of the KHL and was reportedly an option to be signed by the Lightning this summer if ex-GM Brian Lawton had remained in Tampa Bay. Mytischi added Lightning prospect Denis Kazionov to its roster earlier this offseason and recently re-signed former Lightning draft pick Alexei Glukhov.

Helenius to Stay With Sodertalje Next Season

Hockey Expressen is reporting that the agent of Lightning goaltending prospect Riku Helenius, Jay Grossman, has announced the Finnish born former first round pick will play for Sodertalje in the Swedish Elitserien again next season. Helenius joined Sodertalje late last season and backstopped the club to a first place finish in the Kval till Elitserien, the annual promotion/relegation tournament. The move may be a positive for Helenius' development, as he is expected to be Sodertalje's starter next year and the Lightning already have a glut of Norfolk-bound goaltenders with Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus in the fold. Having Helenius in Sodertalje allows the Lightning the luxury of having him develop with plenty of starts in a premiere European league. Helenius is entering the final year of his entry-level deal with the Lightning.

LG Hockey Games Results: 4-29-10 to 5-2-10

Finland won the final leg of the annual Euro Tour, the LG Games, on goal differential over the Czech Republic. Lightning prospects Vasily Koshechkin and Johan Harju participated for Russia and Sweden, respectively, as did current Lightning player Victor Hedman for the Swedes. In addition, ex-Lightning player Evgeni Artyukhin played for Russia while ex-Lightning prospect Marek Kvapil played for the Czech Republic. The tournament is a tune-up for the upcoming World Championships.

4-29-10
Finland 5 @ Russia 4 (SO)
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP

Potential 2010 first round pick Mikael Granlund scored the shootout winning goal in Finland's 5-4 victory over Russia. Former Lightning forward Evgeni Artyukhin had a goal in the match for the Russians, with one assist going to another former Lightning forward, Alex Svitov. Former Lightning defenseman Janne Niskala also had a power play assist in the match for the Finns.

Czech Republic 2 @ Sweden 1 (SO)
Johan Harju, Sweden, 0-0-0, 2 PIM

Jakub Klepis was the only shooter to convert in the shootout session, lifting the Czech Republic to a 2-1 win over Sweden. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had Sweden's only goal in the match.

5-1-10
Sweden 2 @ Russia 4
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, Win, 34/36, 2.00 GAA, .944 sv%

Johan Harju, Sweden, 1-0-1, 0 PIM

Despite a goal from Lightning prospect Johan Harju, Sweden fell hard to Russia 4-2 in the second match of the LG Games. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman took a late minor for holding in the match.

5-2-10
Russia 2 @ Czech Republic 4
Vasily Koshechkin, Russia, DNP

Ex-Lightning prospect Marek Kvapil assisted on a second period goal by Petr Koukal in the Czech Republic's 4-2 win over Russia.

Sweden 3 @ Finland 2
Johan Harju, Sweden, 0-1-1, 0 PIM

Lightning prospect Johan Harju assisted on Niklas Persson's shorthanded game winning goal in Sweden's 3-2 win over archrival Finland.

Harju finished second among the Swedes in scoring with 1 goal and 2 points in 3 games with a +3 rating and 4 penalty minutes. Victor Hedman, for his part, had 1 goal in 3 games and a +2 rating with 2 penalty minutes. On Team Russia, Vasily Koshechkin was 1-0-0, with a 2.00 GAA and .944 sv% in his only appearance.

Ex-Lightning forward Evgeni Artyukhin had 1 goal in 3 games but was -2 with 4 penalty minutes. Former first-rounder Alex Svitov had 1 assist and was also -2 with 2 penalty minutes. Former Lightning defenseman Janne Niskala had a helper in 3 games and a +2 rating. Ex-Lightning prospect Marek Kvapil had a helper in 2 games and a +2 rating.

Among potential 2010 first round picks, Finland's Mikael Granlund had 1 goal and 2 points and was -1 in 3 games. Russia's Vladimir Tarasenko was scoreless and -1 in 3 games.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-27-10

KHL Gagarin Cup Finals
(2)KHK MVD 0 @ (3)Kazan 2
Kazan Wins the Series 4-3
Kazan Wins the KHL Gagarin Cup Championship
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 52 GP, 18-9-27, +8, 18 PIM
Playoff totals: 22 GP, 3-4-7, +8, 12 PIM

Finnish netminder Petri Vehanen pitched a 30 save shutout in the biggest game of the year to lead Kazan to a 2-0 Game Seven win over KHK MVD and the 2010 KHL Gagarin Cup Championship. Kazan's game winning goal was scored 1:18 into the second period by former Lightning first round pick Nikita Alexeev. Later in the period, former NHLer Niko Kapanen scored the insurance marker for Ak Bars off an assist by Lightning prospect Dmitri Kazionov, who played 17:34 in the match. Kazionov had a helper in each of the last three games of the Gagarin Cup Finals. Kazan outscored KHK MVD 9-1 in the final two games of the series to overcome a 3-2 series deficit.

With Kazionov and Kazan's victory, the season has come to a close for the Lightning's European prospects. Bolt Prospects extends its thanks to our readers for this, our fifth season of prospect coverage.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-25-10

KHL Gagarin Cup Finals
(3)Kazan 7 @ (2)KHK MVD 1
The Series is Tied 3-3
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 52 GP, 18-9-27, +8, 18 PIM
Playoff totals: 21 GP, 3-3-6, +7, 12 PIM

The 2010 KHL Gagarin Cup Finals will go the distance after Kazan blew out KHK MVD 7-1 on KHK MVD's home ice in Game Six. Kazan got goals from 7 different players in the match, including ex-Lightning first round pick Nikita Alexeev who scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs and added a helper, as well. Lightning prospect Dmitri Kazionov assisted on a late first period goal by Grigori Panin and played 13:30 in the match. Kazan's blowout win came despite not having the services of star forward Alexei Morozov for a third straight game.

Game Seven, for all the marbles, will occur on Tuesday in Kazan.

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