Forward Thinking: The Egener Experiment Will Continue

When the Lightning made Mike Egener their first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, they projected him to be a physical, slick-skating defenseman who could one day be a team leader.

Now in his fourth professional season, that projection still rings true, but now with one major exception.

A position change.

With the Norfolk Admirals short on forwards to start the year due to four recent signees experiencing work visa issues, and a hoard of defensemen vying for coveted starting spots, it seemed like the perfect time for a career change of sorts for Egener. At Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster's request, Egener was moved up to the wing. The 6-foot-4, 213-pounder responded with an honest effort each night, physical play, and even chipped in a rare goal against his former team, Springfield.

Egener's career high for goals in a year - at the WHL, ECHL, or AHL level - is three (2004-05 Springfield).

Now that the four Canadian forwards are expected back in the Norfolk lineup, where does Egener, who signed a 1-year, 2-way contract earlier this year and was passed through waivers in September (though he didn't actually attend camp in Tampa), go from here?

Nowhere.

"We are going to continue experimenting with him on the wing," Feaster told Bolt Prospects. "We need his toughness in the line-up and we think he is a better fit on the wing. He likes it and is having some success."

The Lightning initiated a similar position change in 2001-2002 with former Boston second rounder and University of Minnesota defenseman Ben Clymer, who was signed by Tampa Bay as a free agent. Clymer, who was undersized for a defenseman when originally appearing for the Lightning, responded with a 14 goal season for the team the following year and played well on the wing over the next three years with Tampa Bay. He was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team before leaving as a free agent after the lockout.

The Lightning hopes this latest position change will bring about similar success.

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4 Reassigned to Mississippi

Brett Angel, Brandon Elliott, Radek Smolenak and Jay Rosehill have been reassigned to Mississippi today. Looks as if the immigration issues regarding Angel, Taylor, Collymore and Klinkhammer may have been resolved.

Not surprised except we have no true enforcers here now. Egener may have inheirited that job along with being placed on the 4th line.

http://www.norfolkadmirals.com/release_story1.php?id=753

Thanks

Thanks for the head's up.

Yeah, looks like they want that role for Egener.

Eggs

I caught the game last Saturday on the B2net. and I must say I was rather impressed with Egener. Not that he's the next coming of Jagr but he showed some things with his skating ability. He was aggressive on the puck and even made a couple nice plays on the PK. If he keeps his feet moving and stay away from the bad penalties we could have a nice compliment to Tarns.

Oh, and another thing or 2 about the game that noticed. First, Keller and Jones were throwing their bodies around with reckless-abandon, which I wasn't expecting especially from keller. Second, something has to happen with the Lightning forward prospects. When you play dmen at forward - Egener, Rosehill, Roger - over some of our "top" forward prospects - namely Smolenak but Elliot was also healthy - there is something to be said about that. And its not good.

Can anyone explain this to me? Also, is there room for Rogers to get his minutes at D, especially if Tampa sends down another dman when Boyle gets heathly??

One last thing, Mihalak(sp) looked might good as well. He played aggressive and had no ploblem giving the opponent that extra shove, before and after the whistle, if he felt they were to close to the crease. Furthermore, whenever he had the chance, whether a lane was open or not, he would fire bombs at the opposing goalie. Which was nice to see unlike most of our pass happy dmen.

Elliot might not have been

Elliot might not have been completely healthy as he sustained the mysterious and secretive "upper body injury" in camp. He ultimately lost his spot because Egener can assume some degree of the enforcers duties and he's a better overall athlete than Elliot. It's a pretty big blow to Brandon's chances in this organization in my view. With Fritz finally out of the way this looked like his year, but he got hurt and missed work and there's no AFLAC that will insure missed opportunities in pro hockey.

Yes, Smolenak being outplayed by Egener was particularly disheartening. We had a discussion about that in the rankings meeting regarding Kvapil and Egener and Smolenak and I kept pointing out that Kvapil and Egener were getting the ice time and Smolenak wasn't. Sadder than losing ice time to Egener, however, is being outplayed by Zbynek Hrdel.

The only problem I have with Mihalik so far is he seems to get beat around the corner once or twice a game. That's footwork and angles and getting more used to the speed at this level.

When Boyle Gets Back

When Boyle returns to action for the Bolts, a tough decision will have to be made. One of the three of Smaby, Lundin or Janik will be sent to Norfolk. Right now I think it will be Smaby.

When that happens, the tough decisions land in Norfolk's lap. Someone will have to be sent to MS. Schnieder and Fletcher bring more offense to the team at this time. Jancevski, Leach or Lampman aren't going anywhere. So I think Rogers is the odd man out in that scenario.

But my guesses are as good as anyone else's. We will see when Boyle returns for sure.

I would not be surprised at

I would not be surprised at all if Janik is the one that gets sent down. When he's been in the lineup he's been getting the exact same minimal ice time that Smaby's been getting, which tells me the coaching staff has no faith in him right now and unlike Smaby, Janik pretty much is what he is. He's probably not going to improve dramatically. Once Boyle returns that could leave the Lightning platooning Lundin and Smaby as the #6 d-man, which isn't a bad scenario when you think of it. And given the low esteem Janik is held in, I don't think the Lightning would shed too many tears if he was plucked off waivers.

Mihalik

I noticed the feet thing with Mihalik as well. Instead of skating with forwards he seems to "reach" at them. Ramsey would be proud. Though, I think he will learn to keep his feet moving as time goes on.

Most big men will do that.

Most big men will do that. It's easier from an exertion standpoint to use your reach (and what a reach Mihalik has) then it is to move a 235+ lbs slab of beef across the rink. And he probably could get away with that a lot in junior but in the AHL and NHL there are burners and the only way to avoid getting beat or taking a penalty is to keep those dogs moving.

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