It appears Lightning goaltending prospect Jaroslav Janus, formerly of the Norfolk Admirals, will head to Europe next season.
Julien BriseBois, general manager for the Lightning's top affiliate in Syracuse and assistant GM for the NHL club, told both Tampa Bay Times reporter Damian Cristodero and Syracuse Post-Standard writer Lindsay Kramer that Janus is looking for a place to play in Europe.
"He's someone who might play in the NHL and who we're still interested in working with," BriseBois told Cristodero. "We get to follow him for a year and re-evaluate where everyone stands a year from now."
Janus is an unsigned restricted free agent, meaning the Lightning don't have to sign him to maintain his rights through next season. Riku Helenius, a recent signee by Tampa Bay and who ironically may have pushed Janus out of an AHL job, played the last few seasons in Europe as an unsigned RFA.
At this point in his development, Janus is ready to take the mantle as a team's No.1 goaltender for a full season. He had spurts as the No.1 with AHL Norfolk when Dustin Tokarski was injured, ineffective, or called up to Tampa Bay, but has never been the unquestioned No.1 for a long period of time. The best thing for Janus' journey to the NHL is to get plenty of starts, and depending on where he ends up, he should get the ice time he needs to take the next step.
Looking ahead, a year from now the Lightning will be without Mathieu Garon, but will have Anders Lindback, Helenius, and Tokarski under contract. Helenius and Tokarski are expected to split time in the AHL this year. Janus will have to leapfrog two of the three goalies projected to be ahead of him to get a spot in Tampa. Coming back to the AHL may also be an option.
Janus won 23 games last year with Norfolk, posting one shutout, a 2.36 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. He broke Tokarski's record for most consecutive wins by a Norfolk goaltender when he finished the season with 15 straight victories. The 2009 sixth round pick went 3-1 in the playoffs as the Admirals won the Calder Cup, accumulating one shutout, a 1.69 GAA, and .937 save percentage.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2011 second round pick Nikita Kucherov confirmed via Twitter (@Kucher86) this morning where he’s going to play next season: “Quebec Remparts !!!”
Remparts Coach/General Manager Patrick Roy drafted Kucherov with the 43rd pick in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft as either a playmate or replacement for Sabres first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko. Kucherov and Grigorenko are good friends and played on the same line together with Russia’s U-20 side last year in the World Junior Championships. The third member of that line, Sergei Gusev, is a Lightning draft pick who will remain with CSKA in Russia.
As a winger for CSKA’s junior club last year with Gusev, Kucherov had 24 goals and 43 points in just 23 games. He had three goals and four points in seven playoff games before a shoulder injury knocked him out of action. That same shoulder kept him from participating in the Lightning’s prospect development camp in early July, though he’s expected to be ready for the start of the QMJHL season in September.
A dynamic offensive weapon, Kucherov is expected to put up big numbers in the Q this year, especially if Grigorenko is at his side. Last year Grigorenko had 40 goals and 85 points in 59 games for Quebec.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired right wing B.J. Crombeen and a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for both their 2013 and 2014 fourth-round picks, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Crombeen, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, has played in 288 career NHL games with the Blues and Dallas Stars, registering 27 goals and 56 points with 580 penalty minutes. He has logged more than 148 penalty minutes in three of the previous four seasons. The only one in which he did not reach that mark was last season, when he recorded 71 PIM in 40 games played. During the 2010-11 season he led the Blues in penalty minutes with 154 and was tied for sixth in the NHL with 17 fighting majors.
Lightning prospect followers expected one high profile Tampa Bay draftee to be selected in today's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, but not two.
Andrei Vasilevski, the Lightning's second first round selection (19th overall) in last week's NHL Entry Draft, is reportedly trying to buy out his contract with Ufa of the KHL to play Canadian junior hockey. As of early Wednesday morning, the Lightning said there was no news regarding Vasilevski, and after several teams took goaltenders in the first round, it appeared his situation with Ufa was far from settled.
While the Valisevski watch was in full effect, Nikita Kucherov, last year's second round pick out of CSKA in Russia, was taken by Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts. The Remparts may lose former Kucherov linemate and Sabres 2012 first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko to the NHL next year and Kucherov would provide instant offense for Roy's roster. There is also a possibility they are reunited in Quebec City. Roy said Tuesday that the Sabres were non-committal to Grigorenko's immediate NHL future, so it is still possible he could return to Quebec.
Kucherov spent most of last year with CSKA's junior team, where he racked up 24 goals and 41 points in just 23 games. He also had seven points in seven games at the World Junior Championships. He was able to get in 18 games at the professional level with CSKA's KHL side, but only managed a goal and five points in limited action. His selection was surprising to many prospect followers as Kucherov is expected to challenge for more games in the KHL this year. However, initial reports on Twitter from a sports.ru reporter said Kucherov was coming to North America. Roy, who has to secure Kucherov's release from CSKA, is already talking about where Kucherov could fit in his lineup.
Should Kucherov join the wide-open QMJHL, he could very well top 120 points next season.
Quebec chose Kucherov with the 43rd pick in the Import Draft, near the bottom of the first of the two round draft.
Vasilevski ended up a second round selection as the newly-renamed Mississauga Steelheads took him with pick number 69.
Mississauga lost last year's No.1 goalie and Vasilevski could make his path to the NHL a lot clearer by joining the Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League. It's worth a shot for Mississauga, who is no doubt hoping the off-the-ice situation can be settled shortly.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired forward Benoit Pouliot from the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Michel Ouellet and their fifth round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Despite not being qualified by Montreal after the 2010-11 season and signed by the Bruins on July 1, 2011 as an unrestricted free agent, Pouliot reverts back to pending restricted free agent status since he doesn't meet the age threshold for permanent unrestricted status. Pouliot does hold arbitration rights should he choose to exercise them this summer.