According to capgeek.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed prospect forward Blair Jones to a 1 year, two-way contract. The numbers on the contract indicate that Jones may have accepted his qualifying offer, as the contract is identical to his 2009-10 deal with the exception of the mandatory 10% raise for RFA's making less than $1M.
Jones is entering his 5th year as a pro, and with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman publicly stating a main focus to revamp the Lightning bottom two lines, Jones' fierce forechecking style may very well earn him a roster spot out of camp. The 6'3" and 215 lbs forward was a 4th round pick by the Bolts in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and has been on the cusp of earning an NHL roster spot for the last two seasons.
With their boots on and their heads held high...
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the win. He finishes his rookie campaign with a 27-25-3 mark, 4 shutouts, a 2.51 GAA, and a .915 sv%. That's a very respectable starting point for a young career.
HER Bouchard, (21) (Perreault, Bourque), 8:43
NOR Fornataro, (11) (Dehner), 13:11
NOR Szczechura, (8) (Parrish, Craig), 2:36 (PP)
HER Giroux, (50) (Aucoin, Bourque), 15:43 (PP)
NOR Simek, (20) (Jones, Mihalik), 1:49
NOR Simek, (21) (Hall, Jackson), 5:41
NOR Hall, (16) , 19:51 (EN/SH)
Unfortunately, there will be no postseason for the Admirals as both Lowell and Bridgeport won tonight, meaning the crossover rule will go in effect. The propriety of the crossover rule is dubious at best considering the unbalanced schedules that are played, which meant Norfolk had to play world beaters Hershey 10 times while clubs like Bridgeport and Lowell got to feast off the worst team in the league, Springfield. Still, it is what it is, and Norfolk will cede its playoff spot to the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division. Norfolk finishes the regular season with 84 points (39-35-3-3).
In the short term, I suspect there might be a recall or two for tomorrow's Lightning season finale in Sunrise against the Panthers. Specifically, I feel like Dana Tyrell deserves a reward for his hard work, and the Lightning may want to take a look at Carter Ashton, who has spent his time on Norfolk's second line since Mark Parrish and Paul Szczechura were sent back down to Norfolk.
In the long term, this offseason will be a challenging one for the Admirals. The Lightning have a lot of decisions to make with veteran players like Ryan Craig and Adam Hall and 3rd and 4th year pros like Blair Jones, Simek, and Vladimir Mihalik. The only knowns I think Admirals fans can count on for next season are that the team will probably be younger and the team will probably still have fantastic goaltending between Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus, who actually has been practicing with the team this week and might've been ready to come back had the Admirals made the post season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Per a twitter report from Tribune Bolt beat writer Eric Erlendsson, the Tampa Bay Lightning will recall prospect forward Blair Jones and defenseman Matt Lashoff from the Norfolk Admirals today. The Lightning play the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, and this recall is expected to be for a single game as the Admirals play Wednesday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a must-win game to make the AHL playoffs.
Against all odds, Keller, Tokarski, and the Admirals have life.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the win. He's been good down the stretch, and he'll need to be amazing in the final 5 games of the season to get the Admirals over the hump.
ALB Blanchard, (14) (Micflikier, Samson), 12:37
NOR Keller, (16) (Jones), 16:03
NOR Keller, (17) (Case, Jackson), 13:29
Justin Keller and Tokarski were the game's first and second stars.
Tonight was supposed to be a funeral for the Norfolk Admirals. With Ty Wishart out hurt and Lashoff and Mihalik called up due to injuries, the Admirals blueline consisted of Scott Jackson and a bunch of no-names. On the road. Against a hot Albany club that's dominated the series this season. And, somehow, the Admirals have parlayed doom into hope, despite being outclassed for much of tonight's game. They made their own breaks. Blair Jones made a great individual play to steal a puck to set up Keller on the first goal, Tokarski made every key save he had to to keep it 1-1, and then in the final frame, when the Ads looked to just be holding on for a point, Justin Keller got a little daylight and used his laser shot to propel Norfolk to the win. That's why they play the games.
It's now essentially a four team race for three spots, and everything looks to have gone Norfolk's way tonight. Inside the division, Binghamton smoked third place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 6-2, meaning the Admirals are 3 points back of the Penguins. In the crossover, Lowell (which is struggling), fell 5-2 to Hartford and Bridgeport is down 4-1 to Manchester very late in the third period. If that score holds, Norfolk will be 2 points back of both the Devils and Monarchs, and in all three cases the Admirals will hold one game in hand.
Can they defy the odds again tomorrow night in Binghamton? If they do, they can pull within 1 point of the Penguins for 3rd place in the East Division. Moreover, they could pull back into a playoff spot if Lowell falls in regulation to Worcester and/or Bridgeport falls in regulation to Portland. Theoretically, with the Lightning off until Tuesday, the Admirals should get Matt Lashoff and Vladimir Mihalik back for tomorrow night, and one would hope a forward or two might also be thrown into the mix, because tomorrow is make-or-break for Norfolk, and Binghamton has been playing well.
Box score from TheAHL.com.