Here's what we learned this week in communication with the Lightning:
2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius made a successful return from major shoulder surgery when he suited up for Finland at an Under-19 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. The Lightning was in attendance when the goaltender played his first game since early autumn, but Finland was on their heels all night and Russia scored two power play goals to beat Helenius and Finland 4-0. Finland didn't fare much better in Helenius' second game, a 5-1 loss to Sweden.
While the GAA may not look ideal for the first rounder, the Lightning said he played well. The important thing to look at here is he's playing again and is in good health. In fact, after missing nearly all the 2006-2007 season, a healthy Helenius is now working out twice a day.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, citing the Sports Network, the Lightning have re-signed forward Andreas Karlsson to a one-year deal.
The 31-year-old Karlsson scored three goals and recorded six assists in 53 games last season for Tampa Bay.
"Andreas Karlsson is a very versatile hockey player who spent the past year learning our system and coming to understand what John Tortorella demands of his players," said executive vice president and general manager Jay Feaster in making the announcement. "Karlsson is a very good skater who can play center and is an effective face-off man and a good penalty killer. He demonstrated in the postseason that he can also play left wing, and can do so as part of a top-two line scenario when needed."
Team Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 today to take home the bronze medal at the World Championships. Starter Alexander Eremenko made 32 stops on 33 shots faced for the win. Lightning prospect netminder Vasily Koshechkin again served the role of backup. The young goaltender finished the tournament 3-0 with a 2.67 GAA and .879 save percentage.
In the gold medal match, Canada defeated Finland 4-2. Columbus forward Rick Nash was named tournament MVP.
Russia was defeated 2-1 today in their semifinal matchup against Finland, meaning the Russians will now play Sweden on Sunday in the bronze medal match. Goaltender Alexander Eremenko allowed 2 goals on 19 shots in the game to take the loss. Eremenko, who is a long time veteran of the Russian national team in international teams, entered the tournament as backup to Lightning prospect Vasily Koshechkin but outplayed the young netminder to take his starting job for the medal round.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is confirming the Lightning have re-signed Jason Ward to a two year deal on his blog. The contract is slated to pay Ward an average of $675,000 a year. Ward was acquired from the LA Kings at last year's trade deadline and quickly ascended to a scoring line job on Brad Richards' wing. In an ideal world, Ward would be a third liner, but given the Lightning's depth issues he could find himself back on Richards' line next season.
The Trib also reports contract negotiations may be at an impasse with formed 2001 3rd round pick Evgeny Artyukhin. Artyukhin has turned down a 1 year $475,000 offer from the Lightning and has reportedly signed a deal with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague. According to Erlendsson, GM Jay Feaster has no plans to make a counteroffer to Artyukhin's agent Mark Gandler.