After a couple of months of rumors indicating he might go back to Europe, Eurohockey.net is reporting that Lightning prospect Marek Kvapil has signed with Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga for next season. Kvapil, 23, struggled the past two seasons to reach the promise he showed as a rookie in 2005-2006 when he scored 18 goals and 45 points in 79 games with the Springfield Falcons. Plagued by inconsistent effort and turnovers in the neutral zone, Kvapil languished in the ECHL for half of last season with the Mississippi Sea Wolves. Kvapil's decision is the first of a string of prospect roster moves to come in the next couple of months. Bolt Prospects' Chad Schnarr will have more on Johan Harju, Mitch Fadden, and Dane Crowley in the coming week.
Eurohockey.net is reporting that defenseman Mario Scalzo has signed with Austrian club Salzburg for next season. If Scalzo indeed chooses to leave North America for Europe, it makes an already depleted Norfolk blueline for next season even thinner. Of course, it also probably helps prospect Dane Crowley's quest to get an NHL contract.
The website is also reporting that Lightning prospect Stanislav Lascek, who has spent much of this season with Mississippi of the ECHL, has agreed to play next season for Zvolen in Slovakia. Lascek, who was drafted as an overage player in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, finished second in the QMJHL in scoring in his final year of junior hockey but has been underwhelming in two seasons of professional hockey that have been spent largely in the ECHL.
Milley's departure leaves an opening for a veteran forward to be retained or signed for Norfolk of the AHL next season. Milley leaves the Lightning organization after three seasons which have included 182 games split between Springfield and Norfolk of the AHL and 14 games of NHL service with Tampa Bay during the 2005-2006 season. Milley has scored 63 goals and 154 points in his 182 games of AHL service with the franchise. He will be missed.
It is not completely clear what Lascek's status will be given that he still has a year left on his NHL Entry Level deal. Whether or not the Lightning retain Lascek's rights, it does appear his departure may give the Lightning some relief on the 50-man roster front where potentially difficult signing decisions need to be made for currently contracted prospects Mike Egener and Marek Kvapil and minor league contracted players Adam Henrich and Rob Klinkhammer.
The first move of the deadline for the Tampa Bay Lightning has finally occurred. TSN is reporting the Lightning have traded winger Vaclav Prospal to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2009.
Picard, a 22 year old 6'2" 220 lbs blueliner, has 8 goals and 38 points in 53 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL this season to go along with 31 penalty minutes and a -8 rating. Picard was an AHL All-Star this season who also had 4 scoreless games worth of action with the Flyers this season. Last year the defenseman played 62 games with the big club racking up 3 goals and 22 points to go along with 17 penalty minutes and a -24 rating.
According to Hockey Forecaster, Picard, "Has poise and maturity with and without the puck. Can be a factor in all three zones and already displays consistency in his overall play." However, they go on to say he, "Needs to do a better job of keeping opposing forwards honest with more physical play. May not put up big offensive totals in the NHL."