Roster(s) Starting to Take Shape

With today's signing of Eric Healey, Bolt Prospects' Chad Schnarr believes the Lightning have hit their 50-man contract limit presuming they re-sign all outstanding RFA's. With that in mind we can begin to speculate on the shape of the rosters of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Springfield Falcons and Johnstown Chiefs for the 2006-2007 season. [b]2006-2007 Tampa Bay Lightning[/b] Afanasenkov/Richards/St. Louis Prospal/Lecavalier/Fedotenko Craig/Karlsson/DiMaio [url=nick-tarnasky]Tarnasky[/url] or Alexeev/Taylor/Artyukhin Kuba/Boyle Ranger/Pratt Richardson/Sarich Delmore? Denis Holmqvist Burke? One of the interesting questions to be answered in Lightning camp will be whether or not Nikita Alexeev, who put up only modest numbers playing in a limited role for Avangard Omsk in the Russian Superleague last season, will really return to Tampa to claim a checking line job with the Lightning. Or, will one of the Lightning's hungry young prospects, most likely Nick Tarnasky, beat the former 2000 1st round pick out for a job? My money is on Tarnasky, for the record. On defense, there are seven players on one-way contracts. Six appear to be locks. Will Delmore stick in Tampa? Or will last year's best AHL defenseman end up back in the minor leagues? Between 2001 and 2003 with the Nashville Predators, Delmore had 34 goals and 72 points in two seasons. There's no doubt Delmore can run a power play. There's also little doubt he isn't afraid to jump into the play. Has Andy Delmore grown up enough to take care of his own end at even strength? That is the question. Between the pipes, the Lightning have $1.6M in extra baggage in the form of Sean Burke. No doubt, they will wait for injuries to set in around the league and then try to unload the veteran netminder for a low draft pick. [b]2006-2007 Springfield Falcons[/b] Healy/[url=blair-jones]Jones[/url]/[url=norm-milley]Milley[/url] [url=stanislav-lascek]Lascek[/url]/Perrin/[url=marek-kvapil]Kvapil[/url] Alexeev or [url=nick-tarnasky]Tarnasky[/url]/Cavanaugh/[url=darren-reid]Reid[/url] [url=mitch-fritz]Fritz[/url]/[url=justin-keller]Keller[/url] or [url=radek-smolenak]Smolenak[/url] Janik/[url=matt-smaby]Smaby[/url] [url=andy-rogers]Rogers[/url]/[url=doug-obrien]O'Brien[/url] [url=mike-egener]Egener[/url]/Helbling Delmore? [url=karri-ramo]Ramo[/url] [url=Gerald-Coleman]Coleman[/url] or [url=jonathan-boutin]Boutin[/url] In Springfield, Zdenek Blatny and Jason Jaspers appear to be out, Eric Healey and Eric Perrin appear to be in. Perrin is probably the best player of the four, so it may be a net gain for the Falcons. Norm Milley may be the lynchpin for this Falcons team, especially because of his heady work on the power play, but he will have to do without Ryan Vesce who was his center for much of last season. The biggest key for the Falcons up front will be to get their rookies up to speed as soon as possible. This year will be a bumper crop for offensive talent in the Lightning system, but questions on how that talent will fit remain to be answered. Can Blair Jones handle a scoring line center job in the AHL at 19/20, or will Dan Cavanaugh have to step up from the checking line to take that job? Will either 2nd leading QMJHL scorer Stanislav Lascek or 5th leading WHL scorer Justin Keller be able to make an impact on a scoring line in their rookie pro campaign? Or will they be beaten out for a job by 2005 3rd round pick Radek Smolenak? Most important of all, however, will be the performance of the Lightning's young goaltending prospects in Springfield. The Falcons will likely enjoy the experience of veteran AHLers Doug Janik, Doug O'Brien and Timo Helbling on defense as well as top draft picks Matt Smaby, Andy Rogers and Mike Egener, so the corps should be more solid than last season. That will especially be the case if AHL defenseman of the year Andy Delmore finds his way down to Springfield. None of that will matter, however, if the Falcons don't see an improvement between the pipes. The Lightning are hoping Finnish sensation Karri Ramo has the same impact Bruins first round pick Hannu Toivonen did in his rookie season of North American pro hockey at 19/20 years old. If he doesn't, one of the second year pros, Gerald Coleman or Jonathan Boutin, will have to pick up the slack. [b]2006-2007 Johnstown Chiefs[/b] Here's where it gets a little more speculative. ECHL contracts are usually last to be signed, so knowing which players the Chiefs will bring under contract will be less certain. Presuming that the Lightning and Falcons rosters above are accurate, Johnstown would be receiving the following Lightning contract players: G Morgan Cey, G Gerald Coleman or G Jonathan Boutin, D Brady Greco, D Jay Rosehill, LW Brandon Elliot, LW Adam Henrich, LW Justin Keller or LW Radek Smolenak, C John Toffey, RW Andre Deveaux, RW Zbynek Hrdel. From the Falcons, D [url=pj-atherton]PJ Atherton[/url], RW Maxime Boisclair and RW Ryan Gibbons are already under contract and likely to be sent down to Johnstown. The Chiefs made qualifying offers to eight players: G Josh Disher, D Doug Andress, D Jim Hakewill, D Jake Heller, D Brett Peterson, D Ben Wallace, LW Jean Desrochers and C Brad Thompson. Disher and one of the defensemen would likely be out if the Falcons send two goaltenders and two defensemen down to Johnstown. Andress' 37 point season in Johnstown may make him attractive to teams at the AHL level, or at the very least a prized commodity for ECHL teams. He will may be the most difficult of the five qualified defensemen to keep. In addition, LW Randy Rowe, LW Joe Tallari, D Ian Manzano and LW Jason Spence have remained in Johnstown during the offseason, although rumor has Manzano looking for work elsewhere. RW Dimitri Tarabrin has been a loyal Chief for seven seasons. The RW, who turns 30 in August, will probably play in Johnstown, if anywhere. Put all together this leaves 14 forwards and 7 defensemen vying for a limited number of slots in Johnstown. Tallari was on an AHL contract last season and, of the forwards, may have the easiest time finding a better paying job, presuming Rowe stays in Johnstown. [url=justin-keller]Keller[/url] or [url=radek-smolenak]Smolenak[/url]/Desrochers/[url=zbynek-hrdel]Hrdel[/url] Rowe/[url=adam-henrich]Henrich[/url]/[url=andre-deveaux]Deveaux[/url] Spence/Thompson/Boisclair [url=brandon-elliot]Elliot[/url]/[url=john-toffey]Toffey[/url]/Gibbons Tarabrin? Greco/Peterson [url=jay-rosehill]Rosehill[/url]/[url=pj-atherton]Atherton[/url] Hakewill/Heller Wallace [url=gerald-coleman]Coleman[/url] or [url=jonathan-boutin]Boutin[/url] [url=morgan-cey]Cey[/url] Despite losing Justin Kelly and possibly JB Bittner, Joe Tallari and Dimitri Tarabrin from last years roster under this scenario, Head Coach Frank Anzalone will still have an embarassment of talent up front, particularly with the Lightning prospects and Boisclair. Team speed will still be an issue however and if the Chiefs do indeed lose Andress they will need one of the other defensemen to step up and assume his puck moving role. No matter what happens, they should be competitive with two Lightning prospects again anchoring the club between the pipes.

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roster

I have a concern about Pratt, I think that one of the young guys may have the opportunity to beat him out. His skating is not that great although he is a good positional player, I do not think he is good enough to be on the 2nd pair. Pratt is a 5/6/7 d-man and the Bolts need speed on D. If Luke/Delmore make the team then the bolts can ill afford to keep Pratt because he is a liability. If Smaby steps up I think he makes the team. As to the third and fourth lines, I still think Craig has a good shot to line up with Brad and marty, otherwise he is on the 3rd line with R2 and karlsson. The 4th line, Taylor and ??? Yes I think Tarnasky makes the team but then who are the odd men out? By the way could the bolts keep 7 d-men and carry 21 on their roster?

Money will determine 7 versus 21

If the Bolts are lucky to unload Burke, remember no trade contract, then they could probably afford to keep 21. However, I suspect even if they are able to trade Burke they will keep 20 and save the money for a player to step in as a injury replacement or as a trade deadline pickup for the run to the cup. Much will be determined with camp. The large question is what do they do with Holmquist if they are forced to keep Burke? Does he go to the minors? Or, is he the trade-able goalie?

Pratt is So Underrated it Hurts

I will never understand why people don't respect Nolan more. The guy led this team in +/- last season and he's one of your most valuable penalty killers and he eats 18 minutes a night. All for what? 700k? If you can find me another #5/6 d-man in this league who can do all that for the little that Nolan makes that little, I'd love to see him. And I don't understand why having Richardson, Delmore and Pratt rotate on the bottom pair is a liability. All three of those guys are making between the minimum and what? 700k? You put those three together and combines they probably make as much as Burke does alone. I think Feaster recognizes now he needs depth on the blueline and he went out and got some early in the process this year. I don't see Artyukhin on the 3rd line to start this season. Torts was only giving Evgeny 4-5 minutes a night at the end of last season. To expect him to go up to 12 minutes right away is a stretch and, in fact, with Karlsson and Craig on that line I expect Torts to use his third line a lot more than the 12 minutes a night he did last season. I think they'll be back up around 15 minutes a night the way they were in the cup season. They've got 7 d-men on one-way contracts so yes, I suspect they intend to keep 7 d-men on the roster this year.

So you don't give Fritz a

So you don't give Fritz a chance to make the NHL squad? Surprising after what Feaster said the other day. Don't get me wrong, I will believe it when I see it, but if he does make it how much does that shake up Lightning roster? Also, Feaster said that they hoped Elliott will be up with the Falcons full time this year. Aren't Boisclair and Gibbons signed to AHL contracts or are they AHL/ECHL contracts? I only remember seeing it being AHL contracts.

Whos' Fritz Going to Beat?

Who is Mitch Fritz going to beat for a job? Is he going to beat Alexeev AND Tarnasky? Is he going to take a regular shift on the 4th line? I just don't see him being full time in Tampa. Not with the way he skates. They might recall him in stretches when they face Brashear in division so often, but I don't foresee him staying with the Lightning 82 games. And with Elliot, I doubt the Falcons would dress 2 enforcers and have both Justin Keller and Radek Smolenak forced to play in the ECHL. That just seems very unlikely to me. If Fritz is up in Tampa, sure, I think they'll recall Elliot. But I doubt you see both on the roster because that will cost a spot to one of our best prospects. Boisclair and Gibbons can be sent to the ECHL, and given the way the numbers work out probably will be. Recall, Randy Rowe and Justin Kelly were on Falcons contracts last season but spent almost the entire year in Johnstown. The numbers games are what they are, which was the point of this post. We have our 50-man roster plus the Falcons' signees and it creates a squeeze, which creates some tough decisions.

I understand your point,

I understand your point, but I also think that by Jay saying that they hope Elliott is in Springfield full time this year lends some credibility to the possibility of Fritz making the big club. That, or they don't mind having both Fritz and Elliott making the Falcons team. Personally, I think that is more likely since I can't picture Torts playing Fritz, but I hope I am wrong. Or if Fritz doens't make the team, I sure hope they get someone who can play the role. I am still holding out hope that we have a couple more trades up our sleeves to clear some of this space and give our young guys more of a chance to step up. I would love to see Egener or Smaby make the team this year. Even Rogers would be nice if his injuries are completely healed. Not too mention I will be extremely disappointed if a guy like Tarnasky doesn't make the team because of someone like Karlsson or whatever his name is. Honestly, I would rather have Tarnasky rather than Taylor or Dimaio.

Trades?

I don't know what other trades we could pull off before the season starts. As we've all said, I doubt we could just outright give Burke away, even with picks included. We'll probably have to wait through the season to unload him, or just bite the bullet and let his contract expire. I hope that doesn't happen, but realistically, who would take him?

Probably nobody. Same goes

Probably nobody. Same goes for guys like Taylor and Dimaio, but someone like Feds could probably be traded. Just a thought.

Hmm ..

With the trade of Modin, I think it would be too much of a risk to trade a guy like Feds. We're already going to need improved output from the Trinity and guys like Craig and Affy to step up. Unless we could give up Feds for a proven top six winger akin to Mo, I don't see a Feds trade happening. That's just my opinion, though.

Roster Spots

Feaster commented on the news the opening day of prospects camp that he had 49 under contract.

If he had 49 under contract

If he had 49 under contract then he needs to cut someone because Sarich and Artyukhin would put him at 51.

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