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Commentary: Veteran Mentorship

Let me start this commentary by throwing out some Lightning trivia. Did you know the maximum number of appearances made in an NHL season by a goaltender the Lightning drafted is 16 by Zac Bierk? Did you know that in total goaltenders drafted by the Lightning have made 94 total appearances, 382 less than Nikolai Khabibulin alone? In fact, did you know John Grahame has played in more NHL games (122) than every goaltender drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning combined? This week the Lightning signed goaltenders Jonathan Boutin and Gerald Coleman to entry-level deals in hopes of turning the tide on 13 seasons worth of draft futility between the pipes. Both could have talented careers as pros, but something troubled me this week that I want to talk about. The team has been floating the trial balloon that both goaltenders may split time in the team's ECHL affiliate in Johnstown. Let me explain why I think that trial ballon should be shot down, flogged, lit on fire and then buried.

Draft Order Settled

The NHL has announced that [url=http://www.bostonbruins.com/pressbox/pressreleases.asp?id=1473]the Tampa Bay Lightning will receive an additional 5th round pick as compensation for losing unrestricted free agent Jassen Cullimore to the Chicago Blackhawks[/url]. With that settled, the Lightning hold six picks going into tomorrow's draft which will commence at 12 pm Eastern:

Lightning Acquire Jaspers

The Lightning have announced [url=http://bolts.tbo.com/lightning/MGBVPG9TPBE.html]the team has traded veteran center Jarrod Skalde to the Phoenix Coyotes for center Jason Jaspers.[/url] Skalde was one of the free agent flops for the Falcons last season and played just 15 games in a Falcons jersey before being loaned to Phoenix's farm team the Utah Grizzlies in echange for Jason Jaspers being loaned to the Falcons. Yesterday's trade now formalizes each players' place in their respective organizations.

Boutin/Hrdel Sign

As expected, [url=http://www.tampabaylightning.com/prdetail.cfm?pressreleaseID=1099&category=3]the Lightning have announced the signing of G Jonathan Boutin and LW/C Zbynek Hrdel to three year standard entry level deals.[/url] Boutin will now battle with [url=http://www.boltprospects.com/node/145]yesterday's signee Gerald Coleman[/url] to see which prospect be next in line behind Brian Eklund. Hrdel adds some desperately needed potential scoring punch to a Lightning organization which is extremely threadbare for skill at the forward position at the minor and junior level.

McKeen's Mock and Small Player Slippage

[url=http://mckeenshockey.rivals.com/draft.asp?Draft=52]McKeen's hockey has released their mock draft[/url] and has Swedish winger [url=http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=2045] Nicklas Bergfors[/url] falling to the Lightning's pick at #30. A tip of the hat to Johan Nilsson of [url=http://www.eliteprospects.com/]Eliteprospects.com[/url]. Bergfors, the brother of Lightning prospect Henrik Bergfors, is slated to come to North America as an import to play in the QMJHL next season. While I don't necessarily see Bergfors, the top Swedish born prospect in this draft, falling all the way to 30 this mock is far more realistic with regard to the Lightning's pick than [url=http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/3821944]FoxSport's[/url], [url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=7795]Hockeysfuture's[/url] and even [url=http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/draft/feature.asp?fid=7065]TSN's [/url]which have the Lightning selecting D Risto Korhonen, G Alexandre Vincent and G Ondrej Pavelec respectively.

Coleman Signs

[url=http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/3833156] The Associated Press and FoxSports.com are reporting the Lightning have signed prospect goaltender Gerald Coleman [/url] to a standard three year entry-level contract. The Lightning have yet to issue a press release on Coleman's signing. Given the Lightning generally like to announce the signings of multiple prospects jointly and the deadline for signings is 5pm tomorrow, expect a press release some time tomorrow announcing Coleman's signing along with Boutin and/or Hrdel.

Feaster Hopes to Sign Three by Thursday

A quick blurb from the Sunday paper: [url=http://bolts.tbo.com/lightning/MGBBW98RIBE.html]Jay Feaster intends to sign three of the team's 2003 draft picks by Thursday[/url]: G Jonathan Boutin, G Gerald Coleman and LW/C Zbynek Hrdel. All would be elligible to re-enter the draft if not signed by that time, although the new CBA will be less favorable economically for prospects if they choose to go that route. Speaking about the goaltending prospect situation earlier this season, Feaster had hinted only one of the prospects might sign. But Boutin and Coleman both showed the ability to dominate their respective junior leagues at times last season and with the Lightning becoming part owners of the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL there should be plenty of room for new arrivals.

Pete's Draft Preview

The sprint to the 2005-2006 NHL season is on, and while Jay Feaster wines and dines the agents of the Lightning's current stars attempting to lock them up to long term deals I will take a look at what hopefully will become the next generation of Lightning stars and the 2005 Entry Draft.

#30

The Lightning will have the 30th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft. Draft preview and players of interest to come in the following days.

Traverse City Tourney Game On

Special thanks to TBL.com moderator and Lightning web community diva MissK for this: [url=http://www.allsports.com/nhl/redwings/stories/2005_07/17_Camp.html]The annual Traverse City prospect tournament is tentatively scheduled for September 4th through 19th.[/url]
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