Contract posturing between Evgeny Artyukhin's camp and the Tampa Bay Lightning has taken another ugly step as Evgeny Artyukhin has signed a contract with Russian Superleague club Yaroslavl Lokomotive. According to the Russian newspaper Sport Express Artyukhin joined Islanders prospect Sean Bergenheim and NHL veteran Eric Chouinard in inking deals with the team. The contract is likely not binding should Artyukhin reach agreement with the Lightning but does potentially strengthen the young wingers bargaining position as he attempts to get more than the two-way qualifying offer for over $600,000 he received from the Lightning.
Erik Erlendsson writes on the Tampa Tribune blog that Artyukhin won't be returning, period. My understanding though is that such deals are signed with regularity with Russian clubs as fallback positions to strengthen bargaining postures and aren't binding, so I wouldn't completely shut the door on Artyukhin returning this season. For instance, according to Russianprospects.com prospects Denis Grebeshkov (Islanders) and Pavel Vorobiev (Blackhawks) have signed similar insurance deals in the last month looking to better their lot at the negotiating table.
If Artyukhin doesn't return, this gives an opportunity to both Nikita Alexeev and Nick Tarnasky to make this team out of camp, with an outside chance to Darren Reid if he shows his skating has improved over the summer.
The Springfield Falcons released their 2006-2007 Regular Season Schedule today. The Falcons open with three games on the road starting October 7 against Hartford and October 13 and 14 against Norfolk. Springfield's home opener is October 20 vs. Manchester.
The following is the Lightning's tentative 2006 Traverse City roster.
(Note: Names and commitments are subject to change)
According to a press release by the Atlanta Thrashers regarding this year's Traverse City tournament, these are the eligibility rules for this year's tournament:
"Per tournament rules, each team may only have a maximum of four players with one year of professional experience each. In order to participate, all skaters must have been born no later than 1983; goalies are exempt from this restriction."
As a consequence of this rule, PJ Atherton will not be eligible to play in this year's tournament (without an exception being made, which is altogether possible in these tournaments). However, Andy Rogers will be eligible to play under this scenario, as will Justin Keller. Mike Egener remains inelligible because he has played two years of pro. Because of the goaltender exemptions the team could take Morgan Cey, Gerald Coleman or Jonathan Boutin to Traverse City along with Ramo, Helenius and Beech, although I am still betting they will only carry three goaltenders.
Updated Traverse City Roster Speculation:
The Springfield Falcons have announced their 2006 preseason schedule. The Falcons begin their preseason at home with a September 29 match-up against the New York Ranger's top affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Two of the three Falcons preseason games are at home.