In, Out, and Up: First Edition

The last couple of years I've from time to time dabbled in trying to predict the future in terms of contract movement inside the organization in this post I like to call In, Out, and Up. This year is probably the most difficult of all to get a read on because of several non-contract members of the minor league affiliate in Norfolk making such strong pushes for contracts and uncertainty at the forward position at the top level in Tampa. Still, here are my best guesses on who gets into the organization, who gets kicked out, and who makes it up to Tampa Bay.

IN:
SOLID IN:
G Riku Helenius, Seattle (WHL)- Riku already has a contract in hand, so I'm fairly sure I have this one correct.
D Kevin Quick, Norfolk (AHL)- Quick will get his NHL deal this summer, albeit at a drastically reduced price compared to what he could've demanded had he kept his nose clean at Michigan.
C Mitch Fadden, Lethbridge (WHL)- Mitch finished 6th in the WHL in scoring. He's still way under the radar, but he's the type who could hit it big quickly in Norfolk next season.
LW/C Johan Harju, Lulea (SWE)- "Big Joe" finished 10th in the Elitserien in goals this season. Expect the Lightning to put the full court press on to sign him.
C Paul Szczechura, Norfolk (AHL)- Currently finishing up an AHL level contract he originally signed with the Iowa Stars. He had 21 points in 19 games with the Admirals before going on the shelf with an injury.
LW Adam Henrich, Norfolk (AHL)- The big power forward finally dislodged his head from his netherregions, and probably earned a one-year deal for doing so. We'll have to reactivate his profile.
LW/D David Koci, Norfolk (AHL)- Koci is a folk hero in Norfolk, and the Lightning don't have any heavies in their organization outside of Roy. Koci is a UFA this summer. It seems an obvious fit.

LEAN IN:
D Dane Crowley, Everett (WHL)- Crowley's a good, mobile two-way defenseman with a good amount of character. The Lightning's glut of d-men in the organization and initial indications that his agent may want to much money possibly will hold him out, as well as Quick's situation.

ON THE BUBBLE:
G Vasily Koshechkin, Kazan (RUS)- The Lightning will again try to sign the mammoth Russian goaltender. I'll believe it when I see it.
LW Luca Cunti, Chicago (USHL)- Word on the street is he can't go back to college and needs a home. Juniors seems like a better option than pro, at least for next season.
LW Rob Klinkhammer, Norfolk (AHL)- If there were any justice in the world, "Klink" would get an NHL contract. The numbers game may hold him out.

OUT:
SOLID OUT:
LW/D Brandon Elliott, N/A- The Lightning have already released Elliott from his contract.
G Ryan Munce, Mississippi (ECHL)- Someone's got to go to make room for Helenius.
RW Zbynek Hrdel, Mississippi (ECHL)- Just a mediocre player who originally got his contract partly from riding Sid Crosby's coattails in Rimouski.
D David Schneider, Norfolk (AHL)- He was supposed to anchor the Admirals power play this season but has been poor in the role.
D Justin Fletcher, Rockford (AHL)- Failed to follow up on a good ATO stint a year ago in Springfield and has already been loaned out to Chicago's farm team.

LEAN OUT:
RW Marek Kvapil, Norfolk (AHL)- Lord knows the talent is there, but he's never followed up on a decent rookie season. May have opportunities in Europe.
LW/D Jay Rosehill, Norfolk (AHL)- If Koci is signed, Rosehill doesn't have a role anymore in Norfolk and may be a casualty of the 50-man roster. Could get a minor league contract to stick around. If he is out, it will be a hockey decision and not on the basis of his late night mistake at the shoe modeling establishment.

BUBBLE:
LW/D Mike Egener, Norfolk (AHL)- The Lightning really thought they had something moving Egener to forward but injuries cost him most of the season. He's only been healthy one year since signing with the organization. They love his character and skating, but was it one injury too many this year?
RW Stanislav Lascek, Mississippi (ECHL)- Lascek has another year on his NHL deal, but I would not be surprised if the Lightning decided to release Lascek as they did Elliott if that's what it takes to keep Klinkhammer, Kvapil, or Egener around on the 50-man roster.

UP:
SOLID UP:
G Karri Ramo, Tampa Bay (NHL)- Duh.

LEAN UP:
D Matt Smaby, Tampa Bay (NHL)- If the Lightning carry seven d-men next year and trade Lukowich or Kuba for budget reasons, Smaby could be in.
LW/C Johan Harju, Lulea (SWE)- If they can sign him, I'm betting he jumps past the AHL straight to the show.

BUBBLE:
D Vladimir Mihalik, Norfolk (AHL)- He's not as far away as people think, although I think he'll get one more year of seasoning.
C Blair Jones, Norfolk (AHL)- He's earned a reputation of not always playing with the same level of intensity, and it's killing his opportunities.
LW Adam Henrich, Norfolk (AHL)- I can't believe I just typed that either.
LW Justin Keller, Norfolk (AHL)- Not an NHL body, but smart, smart, smart.
LW Radek Smolenak, Norfolk (AHL)- He's a real wild card because he's the purest sniper prospect the team has under contract.
LW/D David Koci, Norfolk (AHL)- If, for some reason, Roy doesn't re-sign in Tampa or gets injured, Koci might be the heir to the mantle of human victory cigar.

BOLD PREDICTIONS:
IN: Helenius, Quick, Fadden, Harju, Szczechura, Henrich, Koci, Crowley
Helenius will start the year in the ECHL where the 500 shots he'll face a night will help compensate for the season he lost to shoulder surgery. Mitch Fadden will score 20 goals and 50-60 points as an AHL rookie. David Koci will be elected mayor of Norfolk with 87% of the vote in the general election. Vasily Koshechkin will find some way to go back home to Togliatti of the Superleague. Luca Cunti will become a matinee idol in the QMJHL. Rob Klinkhammer will sign another AHL contract with Norfolk and promptly pot 20 goals.

OUT: Elliott, Munce, Hrdel, Schneider, Fletcher, Rosehill, Lascek
Mike Egener and Marek Kvapil will survive the career guillotine by a whisker. Jay Rosehill will be offered a minor league deal to stick around the organization. An unhappy Lightning organization and an equally unhappy Stan Lascek will mutually decide to part ways.

UP: Ramo, Smaby, Harju
Karri Ramo will reveal his true name is Kal-El by the end of next season and that yellow sun rays give him superpowers above those of ordinary mortal men. Your top-seven defensemen in Tampa next year will be Dan Boyle, Paul Ranger, Filip Kuba, Shane O'Brien, Alexandre Picard, Mike Lundin, and Matt Smaby after Brad Lukowich is traded on draft day for a 4th round pick. Johan Harju will score 15 goals as a rookie and THN and HockeysFuture will both still disavow any knowledge of his existence.

One other bold prediction: Evgeny Artyukhin will fire his crooked agent and re-sign with the Lightning and after a brief stint to start the year in Norfolk, will return to Tampa to beat opposing forwards with their own helmets and eat food at a daily volume and weight that is rivaled only by that of panda bears.

So it is written. So it shall come to pass.

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Yes and No

yes - I still think there is room for Eggs - either at forward or D

yes - Jay Rosehill should be resigned (whether an NHL or AHL contract it doesnt matter). I have to add, when listening to an interview with Wanvig - he was asked "out of all of the young prospects, who 'deserves' a callup to Tampa." Wanvig's answer - "out of everyone Jay Rosehill 'deserves' it the most." After watching quite a few of the games I must kid does his job and playes his 'role' to a T.

No - I believe either Luk - kuba or both will be traded (though if both are traded, with Jays negotiating skills, we will only receive a 7th round pick in 2012 not a 4th)

no - klinkhammer just doesnt do it for me - (though we're thin at forward so ill give it to ya)

Right now I would take Smolenak over any TB's 4th liners and he's even with any of the 3rd liners in my book. the kids just been hustling, agitating, and producing lately. if he can bring that same stuff to camp next year and if torts gives him a chance(I know thats a big if) Smoke makes the team.

Also, whatch out for Tyrell. depending on who we sign in the offseason and whether or not Dana can add some weight the kids gonna make it close. I wathced his first two games in NF and you can immediatly see what he brings to the table... The kid sure isnt shy..

I could see Tyrell getting

I could see Tyrell getting the 10 games in Tampa to start the year, but I don't think he'll stick. He's still got a lot to learn. His speed is absolutely amazing though.

Karl Stewart Question

What is his story playing for Nor? What type of player was he? He seems like a grinder and the exact type of player Tortorella would want yet he gets zero ice time and tonight he is benched for Doug Janik. Did he have problems with the coaches? I just cant figure it out, I love his intensity and checking but he just gets no chance from Torts... Reminds me of Blair Jones. But they call a guy up like Wanvig and he got thrown right onto Richards line logging like 17 minutes for the few games he was here. And as I understand it, Wanvig isn't liked by his coaches in Nor. Just doesn't make much sense and I know you guys really follow Norfolk and could provide some type of feedback...

Stewart Did Well In Norfolk

Stewart was doing well for us in Norfolk. Here he was a second/third line type of player. He always hustled and despite his size would hit. He also liked doing the dirty work along the boards and in the corners. He does bring intensity to the game.

He was well liked by the coaches here. When Jancevski was traded, he was the captain. Rather than naming a new captain we had 3 "A's". Stewart was one of those three "A's" named.

He has 14 goals and 13 assists with 96 PIM. He had a +/- of -12. Due to our poor first half of the season most of our players are sporting minus numbers.

In Tampa I would see him as primarily a 4th liner. But I think he would do well there in that role.

Wanvig IMO is finished in Tampa and Norfolk. On the ADs radio broadcast the other night, he was interviewed and was not complimentary of the Tampa organization and indicated Europe was in his future. He has been benched the last two games and the third period of the game before that, and deservedly so. He was lazy and didn't put out any effort. He can stay benched for the balance of our season for all I am concerned. We do just as well without him. He was our leading scorer, but he had a bad attitude and took whole shifts and periods off. As far as I am concerned don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

torts

I thinks its all torts.. If torts had Lemiux or Gretzky pegged for the bottom line they too would be averaging 47 seconds a game.

torts picks his favorites and plays them----- only them

I haven't really included

I haven't really included any of the veteran forwards in the scope of this edition, but yes, I think Wanvig is gone. Lessard will be asked back, but could make the Lightning next season. I think Milley will probably get another invitation back too. Stewart's probably on the bubble. He was scoring well before being called up to Tampa, but he's not a natural finisher. I really wouldn't mind seeing a big time minor league scorer Zenon Konopka signed to give the Ads the potential to have three scoring lines.

I think they mainly need to concentrate on signing veteran d-men for Norfolk next season as well as a veteran starting goaltender. If Smaby goes up, they're going to be down to Mihalik and a big mess of question marks on the backline. I'd love to get Jay Leach back to start with and then go from there.

Roy

I don't think Roy will resign in Tampa after all the arguments he has had with Torts- it would be good to- why is he getting 1 mil a year? This can give Blair Jones a good opportunity to make the jump to the NHL next year.

Whew! Now that there's

Whew! Now that there's someone else on the Henrich bandwagon, I can finally take off my Adam Henrich underoos and wash them. Looking forward to another contract for Adam, and his name returning to the Top 25.

"we have nothing down in the minors"

This what Tortorella's quote in this morning's paper (SP Times). This guy single handedly ruins the organization. No matter who is brought in he will screw it up...and he is coming back next year! If there is nothing in the minors then its Feaster's fault; if the talent is there but its not used properly then its on Torts. Who thinks the Isles have more talent than the Lightning? Who thinks Nolan is a better coach than Torts? and Buffalo? and Ruff? This is exactly the problem; someone should tell Jay that he has one last chance, or he's going down with him. I wouldn't care except we made some good moves lately, and there is a glimmer of hope... but Tort's will probably be the reason Vinny asks for a trade this summer.

Context

If he's talking about scoring forwards, then what he said is true.

If it's a blanket statement, then he's smoking pinecones again.

My guess is he meant the former and not the latter.

Emotion of the Game

What hope do those kind of statements make for the players battling to earn a spot?

Why not praise Karlsson and say you want him back? Darche? McDonald? But he says he wants Gratton?

Tortorella is a joke and the

Tortorella is a joke and the problem. Feaster actually, in my opinion could have saved his job for the long run had he grew the stones and fire Torts around Nov-Dec when the team was starting to show zero signs of coming out of its slump. But no, Feaster publicly states that Torts job is safe and if things don't get turned around then its the players who are going to be moved not the coach. Where's the accountability for Tortorella? If the GM never ever plans on firing the coach, why would the coach ever blame the GM for not bringing in any good players. (not guys like Hvlac, Karlsson, Ward, OBrien, and others) Why would the players believe in the whole accountability thing if it doesn't apply right down the line? And if Torts is here next season, I agree with whomever said Vinny will demand a trade.(wouldn't be the 1st time with Torts) If that were to happen, this organization would lose half of its fans. But hey, maybe then Torts can convince Feaster to get his buddy Richards who can do no wrong in Torts' eyes(im sure Dal would love for that to happen). That would seem to make a few of you guys happy as well(for whatever reason).

It is the job of the coach to put whatever players he has, into position to be successful. Not fit square pegs into round holes.

I'm really hoping it's not the latter

Either way, that's not how you address the situation in the press. Our farm system and the kids down there have enough to deal without the big league coach outright badmouthing them. I know he's really frustrated at how things have gone, but chill the hell out! Sheesh..

The way he's been shooting

The way he's been shooting off his mouth about the new ownership and spending money and the young players, you get the feeling he's basically daring Koules to fire him.

Not Totally Accurate

Sweeping statements like Torts made get you into trouble. It is no secret that there wasn't a lot of success in Norfolk this year. And the Tampa developmental system needs a good overhaul and infusion of good young talent.

But he's not totally accurate. There are some players in Norfolk who may one day soon be contributing members of the Bolts. Three that quickly come to mind are Mihalik, Jones and Smolenak. Tyrell is going to be a good player. He has done well in Norfolk on his ATO.

So the cupboard while thin, is not totally bare.

I'm still willing to give

I'm still willing to give Torts the benefit of the doubt and that the context of his statement is that he was talking about finding scoring liners for next season. There's no one in Norfolk I would ink in on the second line next season. Guys like Henrich or Smolenak might make the Lightning with exceptional camps, but they're longshots.

Yes, longshots indeed.

Yes, longshots indeed.

Mitch Fadden DUI

My Daughter is a nurse at Victoria General Hospital and in early June Prospect star Mitch Fadden was rushed in after he managed to wrap his car around a pole. He was charged with a DUI Papers say he is okay may have suffered neck and back injuries, how disapointing
Is this why he hasn’t signed an entry level contract yet?? his numbers were impressive this year and i was looking forward to seeing him in Norfolk. I was wondering if this may be the reason he has yet to be signed
My concern now knowing that he is okay is what kinds of restrictions will he have ie. To travel to the US ??? It is a shame for this young talented player hopefully this was a huge wake up call and this won’t damage his chances.

Awful

Indeed, hopefully this is a wakeup call. And, obviously, we hope he's okay.

In terms of hockey... I was told the club isn't under a deadline to sign him this summer, so they're taking their time getting other matters in order first. But yes, they were/are planning on signing him.

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