Swiss online newspaper 20 Minuten quotes a newspaper interview out of Lucerne with Steve Yzerman in which Yzerman confirmed offering a contract to Swiss superstar Damien Brunner. The article goes on to speculate Brunner is almost certain to leave for North America after a strong World Championships has bolstered his stock with several NHL clubs. Brunner, 26, played for Zug in the Swiss NLA league this season, tallying 24 goals and 60 points in 45 regular season games to lead the league in scoring. He also finished tied for the league lead in playoff scoring with 3 goals and 14 points in 9 games, even despite the fact his top seeded club was upset in the Semifinals. The 5'11", 187 pound right winger is an exceptional skater, and has posted 3 goals and 7 points in 7 games thus far at the World Championships.
Update 11:30 ET: Damian Crisdotero of the St. Pete Times tweets that Yzerman denies having offered Brunner a contract, although there is confirmed interest. More on Crisdotero's blog.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they have signed free agent forward J.T. Brown from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The 21-year old was the MVP of last year's Frozen Four and scored 24 goals and 47 points in 39 games for the Bulldogs this season as a sophomore. Prior to joining Minnesota-Duluth, Brown played for 2 seasons in the defensive-minded USHL, posting an impressive 34 goals and 77 points in 60 games in his final season for Waterloo. His father, Ted Brown, played 8 seasons for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings amassing 4,546 yards in rushing between 1979 and 1986 after being taken in the first round out of NC State.
The Lightning won a bidding war for Brown's services that reportedly included the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. He is likely to spend the rest of this season with the Lightning in the NHL and he will be a strong candidate to stick with the team next season. He is lauded for his speed, grit, and shot, and was arguably the most sought after NCAA free agent remaining after University of Western Michigan junior defenseman Danny DeKeyser made the decision to stay in school.
"He plays hard both ways, heâ€™s aggressive, he has speed, moves the puck, has a scoring knack and is a clutch performer. He played his absolute best in the Frozen Four last year," said Tampa Bay senior adviser to the general manager Tom Kurvers, a former UMD All-American defenseman, who watched the Bulldogs 14 times this season. "His competitiveness is so noticeable and he has a little evil streak, which heâ€™s learned to control... Heâ€™s gotten better the last two years and his time in Duluth was well spent."
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Alex Killorn to a two-year, two-way contract, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Yzerman also announced today that the Club has signed goaltender Sebastien Caron to a one-year, one-way contract. Caron will be placed on waivers today and would clear tomorrow at noon.
Killorn, 22, played in 34 games with Harvard University this season, recording 23 goals and 46 points to go along with 47 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound forward ranked first on Harvard in goals and points and was second in assists. Killorn ranked third in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in goals and was fourth in points. He was named to the 2012 ECAC First Team All-League and was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nationâ€™s top collegiate player.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia native has skated in 130 career games with Harvard over the past four seasons, recording 53 goals and 109 points to go along with 155 penalty minutes. He is the first Harvard player to record 50 goals in his collegiate career since 2004.
The Lightning selected Killorn in the third round, 107th overall, at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a three-year, entry level contract, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Namestnikov, 19, has played in 60 games with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this season, recording 22 goals and 70 points to go along with 50 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 171-pound forward ranks eighth in the OHL and leads the Knights in assists with 48, and is third on the team in points. Namestnikov has recorded 14 multi-assist games so far this season with London, including two occasions in which he has recorded four assist contests.
The Voskresensk, Russia native has skated in 128 career games with the Knights over the past two seasons, registering 52 goals and 139 points, to go along with a +29 rating. Namestnikov appeared in six OHL playoff games last year with the Knights, recording one goal and five points.
The Lightning selected Namestnikov in the first round, 27th overall, at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Cory Conacher's reign as the Lightning's newest prospect lasted a day.
On Friday the Tampa Bay Lightning announced the signing of free agent forward Danick Gauthier of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Gauthier, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, has played in 59 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording 41 goals and 72 points, to go along with a plus-35 rating. He ranks second in the QMJHL in goals and is tied for 12th in points. Gauthier has recorded four hat-tricks this season and also leads the Sea Dogs with 11 power-play goals.
The Repentigny, Quebec, native has skated in 212 career games in the QMJHL with the Sea Dogs and Shawinigan Cataractes, posting 70 goals and 132 points, to go along with 219 penalty minutes. Gauthier was a member of the 2009-10 Sea Dogs team that won the Memorial Cup.
Jerome Berube of HockeyProspect.com called Gauthier a late bloomer and pointed out he only started playing in the league at age 18. HockeyProspects had Gauthier graded as a possible third round choice in the 2010 NHL draft.
"Good size with nice offensive upside," Berube said of Gauthier. "He will stick up for his teammates."
Gauthier, who camped with the Phoenix Coyotes last year after working out twice a day to further his chances at a professional career, has the potential to fill a void left by the departure of Carter Ashton to Toronto in a trade deadline day deal this week. The Lightning have a nice crop of skill forwards in the pipeline, but not many with grit and size.
Gauthier is eligible to join the Norfolk Admirals when the Sea Dogs are finished playing, but the defending Memorial Cup champs have an impressive roster and are highly likely to be one of the two teams from the Q in the Memorial Cup tournament in May.