Damian Crisdotero reports on his blog that Riku Helenius will indeed come to North America this coming season to play for Seattle of the WHL. No mention of a source, but Helenius' move across the pond seems likely now that his Finnish club Ilves has signed veteran netminder Tero Leinonen away from Lulea of the Swedish Elitserien.
The 2007 NHL Entry Draft taking place Friday and Saturday aren't the only drafts taking place in the next week. Next Wednesday, June 27th, the CHL will hold their 2007 Import Draft which takes on added importance as rumors persist that 2006 1st round pick Riku Helenius might cross the pond to play Canadian junior hockey next season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has released a report confirming the club has signed left wing Jan Hlavac to a one year contract. Hlavac has spent the last three season playing in Europe, most recently with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. Hlavac helped Sparta Praha to the Czech Extraliga championship this year with 8 goals and 2 assists in 16 playoff games.
TSN.ca is reporting the Lightning have traded a 2nd round pick in either 2007 or 2008 to the Florida Panthers in exchange for center Chris Gratton. Gratton, who was the Lightning's 1st round pick in 1993, will be making his third tour of duty with the Lightning. In 1008 career NHL games he has scored 204 goals and 544 points. In 81 games last season Gratton scored 13 goals and 35 points in 81 games with 94 penalty minutes. His career season came in 1996-1997 with the Lightning when he had 30 goals and 62 points in 82 games to go along with 201 penalty minutes. Gratton signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers the subsequent offseason and left Tampa with the infamous Phil Esposito smudged fax fiasco. Gratton returned in 1999 from Philadelphia and served as the Lightning's captain during the 1999-2000 season before being dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in a multi-player deal that included then-rookie defenseman Cory Sarich. Gratton will assume the Lightning's third line center role next season.
Eurohockey.net reports Denis Kazionov has transferred from HC Tver to CSKA of the Russian Superleague. The younger Kazionov brother had 2 goals and 3 points in 24 games with Tver last season. The 19 year old center was rumored to be headed to North America this summer along with his brother, but it remains to be seen if both the Lightning and the Kazionovs follow through on earlier plans.