Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting on his blog that a deal has been struck between the Lightning and veteran netminder Olaf Kolzig. Terms are not known at this time. Kolzig, 38, was 25-21-6 last season with a 2.91 GAA, .892 save percentage, and 1 shutout for the Washington Capitals. Update: The deal with Kolzig is apparently complete and the terms are reportedly 1 year at a base salary of $1.5M plus bonuses.
The move likely pushes prospect Karri Ramo back down to the AHL level to start next season as the Lightning are also reportedly close to extending goaltender Mike Smith's contract, according to Damian Crisdotero of the Times' blog.
Crisdotero also reports the Lightning have signed winger Adam Hall to a three year deal. The 27 year old grinder had 2 goals and 6 points in 46 games last season with Pittsburgh to go along with 24 penalty minutes. His career season came in 2005-2006 with Nashville when he potted 14 goals to go along with 29 points in 75 games.
The kid deserved better tonight.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 39 shots in the loss. Ramo held the game at 1-1 despite a 2 to 1 shot disparity in favor of the Capitals until a third period power play allowed the Caps to break the deadlock for good. With just a little more goal support, Ramo might've had a signature win to close out his season.
Matt Smaby was -1 in 16:20 tonight with 5 hits and 1 blocked shot. He also took a pair of minors: one for tripping and one for holding.
Atlanta dealt a blow in their own quest for Steve Stamkos.
Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 23 shots for the loss. Can I just say, "Case in point?" After seeing Karri Ramo go 2-0-1 including a sterling effort against the division leading Canes, Smith got well quickly to play the Thrashers tonight and with only a smidge of goal support he would've won. That's what having two young lions competing for the starting job will do for the Lightning. You won't get that if Smith isn't being pushed because he has a sad sack retread as a backup.
19:40 of even hockey for Matt Smaby with 1 shot on goal and 3 hits. The fact Matt has been even with over 18 minutes of IT in both of these one goal nailbiters only helps his resume going into next season in pursuit of an NHL job. And I'll pose the question again: if Smaby finishes out the year continuing to garner 5-6 minutes more IT than Mike Lundin, does that mean he's passed Lundin on the depth chart? When I heard Coach Tortorella's comments about Ramo and Lundin, I obviously was strongly against sending Ramo down to the minors next season. However, if Lundin doesn't hit the weight room hard this offseason and get the upper body strength he desperately needs, Coach might have a legitimate point about the young blueliner.
John Tortorella's trial balloon regarding sending The Kid down to the minors is in the process of being shot down, doused in gasoline, lit on fire, and then having the fire smothered by having it repeatedly run over by the Zamboni. Wow.
Karri Ramo set a career high in saves tonight stopping 38 of 39 shots in a sterling first star performance to raise his record to 7-10-3 in this rookie campaign. And he did it with style tonight too, chipping in a power play assist and flashing leather like Carl Crawford on the final play of the game to preserve the win. Anyone who wants to send this young man to the minors next season is smoking pine cones. He might already be better than Mike Smith, and in 4 years when he is the same age as Smith is now there's little doubt in my mind Ramo's going to be in a much higher rent district in terms of his career trajectory. He's the real deal. Again, the average 21 year old would've crumbled after losing in overtime to Washington the way he did. Ramo is teflon. It doesn't stick to him, and that's why he's damned near bust-proof as a prospect.
Matt Smaby played 18:42 in his first extended screen test for next season. The Lightning moved Smaby onto a pairing with Dan Boyle and he responded with an even rating and 2 hits. Other than a puckhandling gaffe in the second period which almost led to an Eric Staal ten bell scoring chance, he was error free and got a regular PK shift and was out on the ice to help kill the 6-on-4 at the end of the game. Very impressive. I wonder if Smaby is moving ahead of Mike Lundin on the depth chart. I have a feeling if he doesn't blow it, the coaching staff will be perfectly happy to leave him paired with Boyle, getting solid minutes, learning his craft, and gaining momentum heading into next season.
Jussi Jokinen hit 40 points for the season with a multi-point game tonight and Jeff Halpern continues to earn his place as the people's champion on this team, scoring his 19th of the season tonight. These two guys were nowhere statistically playing limited minutes in Dallas. They've exploded offensively since coming to Tampa.
I have been astonished at the work ethic of this Lightning club over the last month of the season. It would've been the easiest thing in the world for this team to lay down after the deadline deals that sent Richards and Prospal out of town. That hasn't happened. In fact, this team is working harder now than any Lightning team since the 2003-2004 Lightning team that bled the will out of Calgary in seven games. The saying is "The harder you work the luckier you get." If it's true, the Lightning's ping pong ball is coming up on April 20th, because they're working harder than 90% of the teams in the league right now, even though pride and jobs are all they have left to play for.
Oh brother! What a way to give up that second point.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the overtime loss. Key play of the game: Dan Boyle gets clipped in the face (UPDATE: Erik Erlendsson blogs Boyle took a skate in the lower throat that left a flesh wound on the play) and stops playing with the play behind his net. While Boyle is not paying attention a centering feed squirts off his skate to Ramo's left. Ramo aggresively dives out to try and cover the puck (probably shouldn't have), misses, and while down and out the Caps score the winner.
You know, the fact these two young netminders are athletic and can handle the puck is a good thing, but they don't necessarily have the maturity in their decision making yet. I am all for investing in a post and a chain to keep Ramo and Smith tethered to their cage until they develop that maturity, because it seems like these two must've given up a half dozen bad goals between them straying from their cages. Mind you, I thought Ramo played well again with the exception of that play, so it's not an indictment of Karri's overall play. But jeez. These kind of goals take years off a coach's life.
Matt Smaby was even in 12:48 with 2 blocked shots. He would've been +1, but was on the ice for the Semin goal which was a clean faceoff win by Fedorov and a bang-bang shot. I like the minutes. I think Matt needs to get the coaches comfortable enough to be up around 14-15 minutes by the end of the season to have a realistic shot of making the team next season. Earning that trust is the biggest hurdle.