Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has released the roster for the Tampa Bay Lightning's only pre-season home game Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. 2009 1st round draft picks Victor Hedman and Carter Ashton highlight six prospects that will get important starts in a star-filled lineup in front of an expectant home crowd. After playing 27+ minutes against Dallas Wednesday night, Hedman will get a chance to showcase why he was the #2 overall pick this summer. Ashton will line up on right wing alongside franchise center Vincent Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay on what presumes to be Tampa's top line. A heady start for the young power forward whom most believe is headed back Lethbridge for one more year of juniors. Forwards Paul Szczechura, Richard Panik and Blair Jones get their second consecutive starts after playing Wednesday against the Stars. Jones tallied the go-ahead goal in the third period before the Bolts succumbed to a shootout loss. Prospect goaltender phenom Dustin Tokarski will relieve Mike Smith for the third period and demonstrate to the home crowd as to why he won the 2008 Memorial Cup.
The expected forward lines for Friday's game are:
Joining Hedman on the blueline for a second straight game are David Hale, Kurtis Foster, and Mike Lundin. Mattias Ohlund will be making his Lightning debut and Lukas Krajicek rounds out the Bolt defensive corps. Joining Tokarski in net is Lightning #1 goalie Mike Smith in his first game action since a concussion prematurely ended his 2008-09 season.
Buried in a blog post by Damian Crisdotero of the Times today is news that the Lightning are still considering signing goaltender Jaroslav Janus to a pro contract for this season if he shows in camp he is capable of pushing Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski in camp.
The Lightning have also hired Leigh Mendelson, ex of Spokane in the WHL, as the Norfolk Admirals' strength, conditioning, and video coach. Brian Lawton is also planning on revealing Norfolk's new assistant coach shortly. Former NHL defenseman Jim Johnson, who has been working with the team's prospects this summer, is said to be in the running. Johnson played 829 NHL games between Pittsburgh, Minnesota/Dallas, Washington, and Phoenix.
In an article for the Lightning's website, GM Brian Lawton praised late round picks Dustin Tokarski and Johan Harju. In particular, the article states there is a "strong opportunity" Harju will be signed for the 2010-2011 season. The money quote from Lawton regarding Harju:
â€œI wasnâ€™t here or part of it, but he fits the late-round mold,â€ Lawton said. â€œMaybe he is a little older, for whatever reason hasnâ€™t been drafted, but you can see he is coming. I commend the staff for a pick like that. We need to have more of them.â€
BoltProspects respectfully poses the following question to Brian Lawton: while you're at it, why not acquire the rights to Harju's talented lifelong teammate Linus Omark from Edmonton? Just a thought.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 4/14
Two prospects going home ... one moving on.