Gratton Assigned to Norfolk, Helenius Assigned to Mississippi

The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the assignment of veteran center Chris Gratton to Norfolk of the AHL. Gratton cleared waivers today after being put on the wire to make roster room to allow the Lightning to retain recent callups like Paul Szczechura and Radek Smolenak and to make room for veteran center Jeff Halpern, who is set to return from IR soon.

In addition, the Lightning have assigned goaltending prospect Riku Helenius to Mississippi of the ECHL. Helenius was recalled to Norfolk after the Augusta Lynx ECHL franchise folded earlier this month. Mississippi was the Lightning's ECHL affliate last season. There is no word as yet if additional players will be headed to Biloxi as well.

Norfolk's press release on Helenius' reassignment after the jump:

Goaltender Riku Helenius Reassigned to ECHL Mississippi

NORFOLK, VA – The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL affiliate of the Norfolk Admirals, have reassigned goaltender Riku Helenius to the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves, it was announced today by Admirals General Manager Mike Butters.

Helenius, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound goaltender from Palkane, Finland, appeared in two preseason games for the Admirals, going 1-1-0 with a 4.00 goals-against average and .840 save percentage. He has not appeared in a regular season game with Norfolk.

The 20-year-old went 3-4-1 in his first eight games of North American professional hockey this season with the ECHL Augusta Lynx, posting a 4.41 goals-against average and .874 save percentage. He recorded his first Norfolk American pro win in his North American pro debut, stopping 44 of 46 shots on October 21 at Gwinnett.

Helenius appeared in his first North American season last year with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. He notched a 22-12-6 record in 41 games with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Helenius was originally drafted in the first round (15th overall) by Tampa Bay in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

The Admirals will return to Scope this week with contests against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tomorrow and against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday and Saturday. All three games begin at 7:15 p.m.

There are several exciting promotions planned this week, beginning tomorrow with Family Fun Pack Night, Student Rush Night, and coupons for a free Domino's Pizza Oven-Baked Sandwich for the first 700 fans through the gates to commemorate the 700th regular season home game in Admirals history. Please visit norfolkadmirals.com for more details.

To purchase tickets to any Admirals game, you may visit the Scope Box Office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., visit any Ticketmaster outlet, call Ticketmaster at (757) 671-8100 or visit Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com. Don't miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2008-09 season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals' Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!