The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms with defenseman Nikita Nesterov on a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Nesterov, 6-foot, 183 pounds, played in 35 games with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL this season, recording 14 penalty minutes while averaging 12:21 in average ice time. He also appeared in 19 playoff games, recording four assists as Traktor lost to Dynamo Moscow in the Continental Cup Finals. Nesterov has played in 45 career KHL games, all with Traktor, recording one assist.
A native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, Nesterov has represented his country in each of the previous two seasons. He played for Russia at the 2011 IIHF World Under-18 Championships, recording two goals and four points in seven games. Nesterov then played in last year’s IIHF World Junior Championships, skating in seven games and registering two goals and five points.
Nesterov, 20, was selected by Tampa Bay in the fifth round, 158th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He participated in the 2012 Lightning Development Camp at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Nesterov’s team, also made up of Vladislav Namestnikov, Slater Koekkoek and Cedric Paquette, took home the annual 3-on-3 tournament championship.
Nesterov is an undersized puck mover who plays a strong positional game. He has a high hockey IQ, which helped keep him in the KHL this year. In fact, Nesterov was used at both forward and a defense for Chelyabinsk late in the year and in the playoffs.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Mathieu Roy (WAH) to a NHL contract for the remaining games of the 2012-13 season today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Roy, 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, played in 51 games with the Hamburg Freezers of the German Elite League this season, recording eight goals and 26 points. He led all Freezers defensemen for goals and was tied for the lead for points. Roy also had a plus-10 rating. He also played in six playoff games, recording five assists, tied for the most on the team during the postseason.
A native of St. Georges, Quebec, Roy has played in 65 career NHL games with the Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers. He has amassed two career goals and 13 points. Roy played in four games with Tampa Bay during the 2010-11 season, also playing in 45 games with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL under current Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. Roy made his NHL debut with Edmonton during the 2005-06 season.
Roy was selected by Edmonton in the seventh round, 215th overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Ben Bishop to a two-year contract extension today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Bishop, 6-foot-7, 214 pounds, has played in six games with the Lightning after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the April 3 trade deadline. He has posted a 2-3-0 record with a .916 save percentage and a 3.21 goals-against average. Bishop made his Bolts debut on April 4 at Carolina, stopping all 45 shots he faced for a shutout. He was the second goalie in franchise history to post a shutout in his Lightning debut (Dwayne Roloson, January 4, 2011) and tied the franchise record for most saves in a shutout (Daren Puppa, November 27, 1995). He has played in a total of 19 games this season with Tampa Bay and Ottawa, recording a 10-8-0 record with a .920 save percentage, 2.68 goals-against average and two shutouts.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms with forward B.J. Crombeen on a two-year contract extension, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
“We are pleased to have B.J. with the Lightning organization for another two years,” Yzerman said. “He has proven to be a hard-nosed right winger and reliable penalty killer, as well as a very popular teammate of outstanding character.”
Crombeen, 27, has skated in 30 games with the Lightning this season, recording a goal and seven points to go along with 86 penalty minutes and a plus-six rating. He ranks first on the Lightning and fifth in the National Hockey League in penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound forward scored his first goal in a Lightning uniform on March 5 against the Devils in New Jersey.
“I am very thankful to the organization for giving me the opportunity to re-sign for two more years," Crombeen said. "I am very excited to move forward with the group we have and chase a spot in the playoffs."
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in 38 games as a captain with the Western Michigan University Broncos in 2012-13, recording two goals and 10 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes while being named Second-Team All-CCHA. He led the Broncos with 53 blocked shots and ranked second for penalty minutes. Witkowski also added two power-play tallies.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski played in 152 games during his four-year career at Western Michigan. He accumulated seven goals and 38 points with 235 penalty minutes. He won the 2010-11 Bill Saunders Plus/Minus Award for finishing with the Broncos’ best plus/minus rating at plus-13.
Prior to attending Western Michigan, Wikowski played for the Fargo Force and the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL. He amassed nine goals and 26 assists in two USHL seasons. Witkowski was named to the 2009 USHL All-Star Team.
Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted he has attended four Lightning Development Camps.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Tanner Richard to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Richard, 19, has skated in 52 games this season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, recording 11 goals and 62 points to go along with 94 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward ranks first on the Storm and ninth in the OHL in assists with 51 and was third on his team with a plus-18 rating. Richard also played in five postseason games against the Kitchener Rangers, registering three assists and six penalty minutes.
The Jona, Switzerland native has appeared in 95 career OHL games, all with Guelph, collecting 24 goals and 110 points with 140 penalty minutes. He also represented Switzerland at the 2013 IIHF World Jr. Championships in Russia, posting four assists and plus-two rating in six tournament games.
Richard was originally drafted by the Lightning in the third round, 71st overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning have released Guy Boucher from his head coaching commitment, effective immediately, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced this morning.
Yzerman also announced that Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities for the game tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Lightning signed 2012 first-round pick Slater Koekkoek to a standard three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
"This is obviously something I have been working toward my whole life,” Koekkoek said in a Spitfires press release. “I am happy it's done. But now the real hard work begins.
"Obviously my first hope is to make the Tampa club out of camp [next year]. But knowing I have a great team and teammates to come back to in Windsor if that doesn't happen is awesome."
Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy reports Lightning prospect goaltender Jaroslav Janus has signed a two-year contract with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League. Janus had been on a tryout agreement with the club.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times confirmed the 2-year contract with Janus' agent. The agent told Cristodero that Janus has an out clause next summer should he wish to return to North America.
The fourth-year pro went to Europe looking for a No.1 goaltending position after being nudged out of the Lightning's AHL plans when Tampa Bay signed goalies Anders Lindback and Riku Helenius. Lindback in Tampa with Mathieu Garon keeps Dustin Tokarski in the AHL and Helenius takes Janus' spot as Tokarski's tandem partner.
The Lightning encouraged Janus' move to Europe as it will give him the best chance for more playing time – which is exactly what he needs at this point in his development. The club made it clear they continue to view Janus, 22, as a legitimate NHL prospect. The Lightning are scheduled to get Garon off the books next year, opening up a possible spot for Helenius, Tokarski, or Janus.
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.