The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft as well as defenseman Sebastien Piche in a three-team trade Wednesday, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The Lightning traded forward Steve Downie to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Tampa Bay then sent Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for their first-round pick and Piche.
The Lightning now have two first-round picks in 2012 along with a maximum of four and a minimum of three selections in the second round.
Piche (pictured), 6-foot, 202 pounds, has played in 42 career AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, recording five points (0-5-5). This season he has played in 22 games, notching three assists. Piche signed with the Red Wings as a free agent on April 12, 2009.
Piche has been assigned to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.
The Lightning also acquired forward Brendon Segal from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Matt Fornataro on Wednesday. Fornataro was on an AHL contract with Norfolk.
Admirals come back to take first place in the East Division.
NOR 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 21 shots before stopping 7 of 9 in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
SYR Gordon (1), (Holzapfel, Cumiskey)(PP), 11:36
SYR Gordon (2), (Holzapfel), 0:19
NOR Barberio (7), (Johnson), 7:16
NOR Panik (12), (Palat, Barberio)(PP), 9:02
SYR- Jacques, Holland
NOR- Kostka, Johnson, Ouellet
With under 14 minutes to go, it looked like the Admirals were going to get tripped up again in the back-to-back scenario against the same opponent. It's a challenge NCAA coaches have been fighting against forever, and it's a unique challenge to Norfolk because of the team's geographical location relative to the rest of the league. But then the Admirals came back and did their thing, finally outshooting Syracuse 43-21 and making sure they got the 2 points they needed for the sellout crowd at Scope.
With the Penguins losing to Albany, the Admirals moved out to a 2 point lead in the East Division with the win, and they maintain a 3 point edge on Hershey, as the Bears defeated the Monarchs today. The Penguins do hold 1 game in hand on the Admirals and the Bears hold 2 games in hand. But, for the moment, the Admirals are where they need to be to have the best chance of success heading toward the postseason. Norfolk is off until next Friday, when they start their weekend road swing against Binghamton. They then have critical matchups against Hershey on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And, Nacho kicks the extra point!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the victory. Much like Dwayne Roloson against the Sharks last night, here's a young man who loves his goal support. Despite his ugly save percentage on the night, by collecting his 23rd win of the year, Tic moved back into a tie with Peoria's Ben Bishop for the league lead in wins.
NOR Kostka, (8) (Johnson, Smith), 2:43 (SH)
SYR Holzapfel, (9) (Jacques, Caputi), 5:07 (PP)
SYR McMillan, (8) (Sexton, Carle), 9:37
NOR Johnson, (18) (Conacher, Fornataro), 16:11 (PP)
NOR Picard, (3) (Smith, Palat), 19:16 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (29) (Oberg, Barberio), 5:45
SYR Holzapfel, (10) (Gordon), 5:58
NOR Angelidis, (12) (Kostka), 9:57 (SH)
NOR Smith, (21) (Kostka, Oberg), 12:00 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (12) (Dimmen, Conacher), 13:00
SYR Schofield, (7) (Palmieri), 14:40
Mike Kostka and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars. Kostka, for the moment, sits in a tie for 5th amongst all defensemen at 31 points in 48 games. Mark Barberio still paces the field at 43 points in 51 games, and he's opened up a 4 point gap on second place.
Lost in the sizable shadow of Kostka and Barberio, though, has been the play of suitcase virtuoso Evan Oberg (pictured). He now has 16 points in 33 games this season, but the bulk of those points have come recently. He has 10 points in his last 10 contests, which is impressive while pulling dual duty in between his role as the Mayor of Concourse B at Norfolk International Airport.
Ondrej Palat has 5 points in his last 4 games. Impressive, but Tyler Johnson raised Palat with 7 points over the same span. It took nearly 5 months, but Johnson has run down fellow rookie Carter Ashton in both points and goals. The two are now knotted up at 18 goals a piece and TJ's now moved 1 point ahead of Ashton at 35 for the season.
Lapping the entire field of rookies, league-wide, is phenom Cory Conacher. His 29 goals and 60 points are 4th amongst all scorers, and his tally tonight moved him out of a 3-way tie for the top spot in goals. Consider the possibilities, Lightning fans. The organization could have the goal scoring champions at both the NHL and AHL levels in the same season. That's quite the feather in the Lightning's cap.
Norfolk's victory allows them to keep pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the top spot in the East Division, and by virtue of Hershey losing a 6-0 decision to Providence, they've opened up a 3 point lead on the third place Bears. Winning the East Division looks like it may be CRITICAL to the Admirals' chances come the playoffs. They want to avoid a possible 4/5 matchup against the Bears or Penguins in the first round and get a less experienced club from the Atlantic or Northeast in the first round, instead.
The Admirals rematch Syracuse tomorrow. As always, we stress how difficult it is to beat the same team on back-to-back nights, especially when you thump them the first night. Let's see if Norfolk has learned that lesson yet.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dustin Tokarski stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout win. He also stopped a Robert Bortuzzo penalty shot in the third period to keep the bagel on his plate.
Tokarski tied his professional high of 4 shutouts and raised his season save percentage to .906 with the effort. He's 4-1-0 so far this month with 2 shutouts, a 1.60 GAA, and a .938 save percentage. The young man's known for being clutch, and now that the stretch run is starting, it appears Tic Time is, too.
NOR Smith, (20) (Gudas), 0:59 (SH)
NOR Palat, (4) (Cote, Johnson), 17:51
NOR Labrie, (11) (Panik, Palat), 12:57
NOR Johnson, (17) (Barberio, Kostka), 14:38 (PP)
Carter Ashton was stopped by Scott Munroe on a penalty shot of his own in the second period.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie extended his point streak to 6 games, with 4 goals and 7 points over that span. "Nacho" bested his pro career high of 26 points, set last season, with his 27th point on the goal.
With his 1 goal and 1 assist night, Tyler Johnson very quietly moved within 1 goal and 1 point of catching fellow rookie Ashton in those statistical categories. Perhaps Bolt Prospects co-founder Tim Bennett is right that TJ's being unfairly lost in the shuffle this season.
Panik attack, y'all.
Norfolk outshot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 33-24 in the contest.
I want you all to take in the full scope of what the Admirals accomplished tonight. With a tie for first in the East Division on the line, they went into the Penguins' barn and didn't just beat them. No, they humiliated them. They beat them up (35 minutes in penalties for the Ads including 3 fighting majors and 6 roughing minors). They shut them down. They lit them up. There's no silver linings for the Penguins in this game, other than the fact that their 1 game in hand on Norfolk still allows them to be listed as the division leader in the standings.
Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are tied at 65 points atop the East Division, each 5 points back of conference leading St. John's. Hershey lurks just 1 point back of the Ads and Pens. Norfolk's 31 wins are third in the AHL behind only Oklahoma City and St. John's, which both have 32. Norfolk returns home on Friday to face Syracuse for a 2 game set. The Crunch are 2 games under .500 and a very distant 4th in the East Division standings.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
With the graduation of Brett Connolly from prospect status, it's finally time to release Bolt Prospects' 2011-2012 Midterm Rankings. While difficult for the Lightning at the NHL level, this season has proven to be incredibly exciting for the development of the team's prospects. The Lightning have never boasted such incredible depth in the system, and that depth extends to overage prospects like Trevor Smith, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and J.T. Wyman, who have made positive contributions to the big club during injury recalls. The team should also be excited about the performance of AHL signees like Philip-Michael Devos and Cory Conacher, the latter of whom is a lock to earn an NHL entry-level contract from the Lightning very soon.