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CHL Import Draft Set for Wednesday

The story of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft isn't over yet, because the CHL has yet to hold their annual Import Draft. The two Europeans selected by the Lightning in Saturday's draft, [url=riku-helenius]Riku Helenius[/url] and [url=denis-kazionov]Denis Kazionov[/url], could be selected and choose to play junior hockey in Canada's season. In Helenius' case, such a choice might be an important one in his development with Tuukka Rask likely to stifle any opportunities for playing time at the SM-liiga level in the Ilves organization in Finland. For Kazionov, a selection in Wednesday's Import Draft could be an intriguing opportunity for him to further a potential NHL career in ways his older brother did not when he had the chance. In 2002, Dimitry Kazionov was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL but chose to remain in Russia where he has struggled to get more than 4th line minutes in the Superleague, thereby stunting his development as a player. Could young Denis learn from Dimitry's mistake? On a site related note, please be advised we have removed Dennis Packard, J.F. Soucy and Gerard Dicaire from the Prospects page in light of the Lightning's decision not to extend them qualifying offers. In Dicaire's place in the top-25 rankings, where he was 25th, we have elevated [url=jay-rosehill]Jay Rosehill[/url] from the North American Minor Pro list. The four new prospects selected Saturday have been added to the Prospects page but we will not be integrating them into the top-25 rankings until the Fall when we release our 2006-2007 Preliminary Rankings. This will allow the prospects to have the opportunity to prove themselves within the framework of the Traverse City tournament and camp as well as the Lightning's training camp, thereby identifying their place in the organizational structure. We believe rankings produced any earlier would be premature. Also note, we have updated the Draft History page to reflect the results of yesterday's Entry Draft. We also will be updating the Draft History page over the summer to include career NHL games played and other basic statistics per site member Abbey's suggestion. This will allow for an at-a-glance analysis of the relative success of the Lightning's drafts over the past 14 years.

Lightning Say Good-Bye to 4

The St. Pete Times is reporting the Lightning did not extend qualifying offers to the following players: Center Martin Cibak (Tampa Bay), Forward J.F. Soucy (San Diego ECHL), Winger Dennis Packard (Johnstown ECHL), and Defenseman Gerard Dicaire (Springfield AHL). The move means all will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Offers were extended to Lightning players Cory Sarich, Evgeni Artyukhin, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Dimitri Afanasenkov. Their rights will be maintained. Cibak was not expected to be back as he split last season between the ice and the press box. With GM Jay Feaster saying he wanted a more physical fourth line that can provide offense, the writing was on the wall for Cibak. This opens the door for either Nick Tarnasky (physical play) or recently signed Eric Perrin (offense) to step in. Both will compete with Tim Taylor for the third line spot, also. Soucy fell out of favor with the organization last season and was loaned out to multiple ECHL teams. Packard, a monster of a forward, never found his game after graduating from Harvard, and Dicaire, a promising young defenseman who almost made the Lightning squad out of junior, unfortunately had to battle injuries, ailments, and Lightning affiliate challenges in his young career.

Dane Crowley

[b]Name: Dane Crowley Position: Defenseman Shoots: Right Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 lbs Born: 1/22/87 Acquired: 2006 Entry Draft, 6th Round, 168 Overall[/b] [b]Junior Career[/b] Dane Crowley began his junior career in 2003-2004 in the Saskatoon Blades organization after going undrafted in the WHL Bantam Draft. Crowley played 28 games with the Blades as a 16 year old rookie scoring 1 goal and 4 points with 28 penalty minutes and a -9 rating. The following season, Crowley's draft year, he scored 1 goal and 4 points in 52 games with a -8 rating and 101 penalty minutes. Unfortunately, Crowley went unranked by the NHL Central Scouting Service and undrafted in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The following season Crowley was traded at midseason to the Swift Current Broncos. In total, Crowley had 1 goal and 21 points in 71 games between Saskatoon and Swift Current with a -15 rating and 149 penalty minutes. The performance was sufficient to impress the Lightning who selected Crowley in the 6th round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In the Fall of 2006 Crowley attended the Lightning's prospect development camp and his first Traverse City tournament with the Lightning where he had 3 assists in 4 games. Crowley earned a spot in the full Lightning training camp with his play but was returned to Swift Current in the early wave of cuts. Crowley established himself as the blueline anchor of the Broncos power play in 2006-2007 before being dealt to contending Everett at midseason. In total, Crowley scored 8 goals and 38 points between Swift Current and Everett to go with 124 penalty minutes in 62 games. Crowley also had 3 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 12 playoff matchups for the Silvertips. [b]Professional Career[/b] The Lightning will wait until the Traverse City prospect tournament in the Fall before making a decision whether or not to sign Crowley for the 2007-2008 season. Given Crowley was a year overage when he was drafted, a signing would make sense but the Lightning don't face a deadline on the matter until the summer of 2008. [b]Talent Analysis[/b] [i]Pros: Crowley has good size and mobility and has proven his toughness and mettle in the extremely physical WHL. Over the last couple of seasons he's also shown the ability to run a power play at the junior level. Cons: As a late bloomer, it's difficult to judge whether Crowley's recent development is a function of his advanced age and experience level in the WHL. It's also difficult to project whether Crowley will sustain his development at the next level for many of the same reasons.[/i] [b]Future[/b] After flying under the radar for much of his career, Crowley's true upside isn't as easy to peg as other more scrutinized prospects. With some grooming in the Lightning's farm system it is conceivable that he could well develop into a third pairing NHL defenseman. [i]Statistics Courtesy [url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=74648]hockeydb.com[/url][/i] [i]Profile Created 2/21/07 by Pete Choquette[/i]

Draft Tracker

[b]Here are the first 15 picks of the first round:[/b] 1. St. Louis: D Erik Johnson, USNTDP (US) 2. Pittsburgh: C Jordan Staal, Peterborough (OHL) 3. Chicago: C Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (WCHA) 4. Washington: C Nicklas Backstrom, Brynas (SWE) 5. Boston: C Phil Kessel, Minnesota (WCHA) 6. Columbus: C Derrick Brassard, Drummondville (QMJHL) 7. New York (I): RW Kyle Okposo, Des Moines (USHL) 8. Phoenix: C Peter Mueller, Everett (WHL) 9. Minnesota: C James Sheppard, Cape Breton (QMJHL) 10. Florida: C/W Michael Frolik, Kladno (CZE) 11. Los Angeles: G Jonathan Bernier, Lewiston (QMJHL) 12. Atlanta: C Bryan Little, Barrie (OHL) 13. Toronto: C/W Jiri Tlusty, Kladno (CZE) 14. Vancouver: RW Michael Grabner, Spokane (WHL) [b]15. Tampa Bay: G Riku Helenius, Ilves Jr (FIN Jr)[/b]

Jones/Times Mention Three Potential Picks

Work on a deal for a starting goaltender continues [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/24/Lightning/Goalie_still_tops_Lig.shtml]according to this morning's article by Tom Jones in the St. Pete Times[/url], but don't expect the Lightning to go for a goaltender or a defenseman with their top draft choice. Instead, Jones mentions Cape Breton's James Sheppard, Vasteras' Patrik Berglund and Barrie's Bryan Little, all forwards, as potential choices for the Lightning. Interesting note: the Lightning's draft list is apparently only 80 players deep this year because the club is only looking for players which meet their high character standards.
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