Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is confirming the Lightning have re-signed Jason Ward to a two year deal on his blog. The contract is slated to pay Ward an average of $675,000 a year. Ward was acquired from the LA Kings at last year's trade deadline and quickly ascended to a scoring line job on Brad Richards' wing. In an ideal world, Ward would be a third liner, but given the Lightning's depth issues he could find himself back on Richards' line next season.
The Trib also reports contract negotiations may be at an impasse with formed 2001 3rd round pick Evgeny Artyukhin. Artyukhin has turned down a 1 year $475,000 offer from the Lightning and has reportedly signed a deal with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague. According to Erlendsson, GM Jay Feaster has no plans to make a counteroffer to Artyukhin's agent Mark Gandler.
Eurohockey.net is confirming that defenseman Joe Rullier has signed a contract to play with Lukko Rauma of the Finnish SM-liiga next season. Rullier was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks organization at the trade deadlime this season in exchange for defenseman Doug O'Brien. Rullier's departure leaves the Lightning in need of a veteran defenseman to anchor the blueline corps in Norfolk next season.
Word on the street is that despite the fact Vasily Koshechkin is under contract to Lada Togliatti through the 2007-2008 season, Togliatti may not be able to afford Vasily and he may be on his way to Tampa as a result. Recall, Togliatti traded half their team two seasons ago including Dimitri Kazionov during the December Euro Tour break because one of their main partners in ownership pulled out of the club. Apparently those financial problems haven't disappeared which is why Koshechkin coming to North America may be on the table a year earlier than was thought going into this season.
In a recent interview with his hometown newspaper in Burnsville, Minnesota, Lightning prospect and graduating University of Maine defenseman Mike Lundin states he is currently in contract talks with the Lightning. Lundin played in three Frozen Fours with Maine and had 19 points in 37 games this year with the Black Bears.
"Iâ€™ve been in touch with them a lot throughout the year, and now that the year is over, there has been some contract talk," Lundin told thisweek-online. "From what Iâ€™ve heard this can be a long process, so Iâ€™m just going to have to stay patient throughout the summer and hopefully I will be with the Tampa Bay organization next year."
According to the Portland Press Herald, University of Maine senior defensman Mike Lundin does not plan to sign any potential professional contract until after the university's Spring classes are complete.
It was speculated that Lundin, an alternate captain for the Black Bears who had 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points this year, may be signed and placed in Johnstown for the ECHL playoffs after his team was finished. There was a small window between Maine's loss to Michigan State and Johnstown's elimination loss last night when this could have happened.
Of interest: Maine's leading scorer (tied), Mike Laveille, a 5'9", 180 pound playmaking center, is expected to sign an Amateur Tryout Agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs' affiliate, the Toronto Marlies this week. Laveille tied for the club lead in scoring with senior forward Josh Soares, who has signed on with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL (St. Louis Blues affiliate).