Bolt Prospects News Bits
Johan Harju, a 22 year-old 2007 sixth round pick, is unlikely to be a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization this fall. Last summer the Lightning attempted to bring the big Swedish winger to North America, but Harju chose to stay with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League. All he did in his return to Lulea was score a career high 20 goals in 51 games. That goal total was good enough for first on his team and among the leaders in Sweden's highest league. He also added 8 assists for 28 points and 55 penalty minutes. According to Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster, Harju is under contract for another year in Sweden, and without an International Ice Hockey Federation transfer agreement, Harju can not be signed by Tampa Bay - despite the Lightning's wishes to do so. Therefore, Lulea would have to voluntarily release Harju from his contract in order for Harju to sign in Tampa this summer, which is extremely unlikely. The Lightning will retain his rights.
Mitch Fadden, a center who was last seen with his Lethbridge teammates watching Spokane celebrate the WHL championship on the Hurricane's home ice (The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup), will likely be in the Lightning system by fall. Feaster states the club will try and sign Fadden, a 2007 fourth round pick who was among WHL regular season and playoff point leaders, but they are under no mandated deadline to do so. Fadden had 34 goals and 55 assists for 89 points in 72 games this year for Lethbridge, then added 5 goals and 15 assists in his first 15 playoff games before being shutout in the WHL Finals sweep. Fadden, when signed, will add much needed forward depth to the Lightning system. If he does not come to an agreement with Tampa Bay, he can return to Lethbridge as an overage player, though talk in the Lethbridge media is his rights may be traded to another WHL club to make room for younger talent.
Whereas Fadden is not under a mandated deadline to be signed, 2006 sixth round pick Dane Crowley must be signed by June 1 or the Lightning forfeits his rights. The Bolts are interested in signing the two-way defenseman, but to an AHL contract through Norfolk. According to Feaster, an AHL deal has been offered to Crowley, who had one assist in five games with Norfolk under an amateur tryout agreement at the end of the year. Crowley had 10 goals and 29 points to go along with 131 penalty minutes as an overager with WHL Everett this season before joining Norfolk. In 2006-07 he accumulated 8 goals and 36 points with Swift Current and Everett.
Finally, Feaster reports no decision has been made regarding Luca Cunti's immediate future. Cunti, a 2007 third round pick, was to play with St. Cloud State last season but after a long, drawn-out process, had his amateur eligibility refused by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Cunti then played with Chicago of the USHL, where the center had 11 goals and 32 points in 34 games before adding 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 playoff contests. Near the end of his tumultuous year, Cunti told McKeenâ€™s Hockey he didn't know where he would play in 2008-2009, but would likely leave the decision up to Tampa Bay. Feaster told Bolt Prospects they'd like to see Cunti play major junior (Canadian Hockey League) next year, but no formal decision has been made yet. The CHL Import Draft is normally held a few days after the NHL Entry Draft.