August 15th came and went quietly, and the Lightning did not sign prospect defenseman PJ Atherton. Despite scoring 5 goals and 29 points in 57 games as a rookie with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL, Atherton was a casualty of the Lightning's overwhelming defensive depth in the minor league system signed over the course of the summer.
With the Lightning losing Atherton's rights, he will be removed from the Top-20 on the prospect page. In his place, enforcer Brandon Elliot will be temporarily moved into the Top-20. Just a note to those wondering when the '07 draftees will be added to the rankings: Bolt Prospects policy is to wait until after the Traverse City prospect tournament and Lightning training camp before placing new draftees into the rankings. This allows new players to prove themselves in a competitive environment against their peers in the organization and allows for a more accurate set of rankings to be generated. Typically, Bolt Prospects has released its Preliminary Rankings around the first or second week of October, so expect an update containing the 2007 draftees to be published then.
NHL.com has a couple of articles out today regarding the Lightning's prospects. First up, John McGourty interviews General Manager Jay Feaster on the top prospects in the Lightning organization. Feaster gives his opinions on defensemen Matt Smaby, Andy Rogers, and Vladimir Mihalik, forward Blair Jones, and goaltenders Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius.
Next up Shawn P. Roarke interviews Helenius from the Team USA Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY. Helenius talks about leaving Finland behind to join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.
Lost in the shuffle of today's surprise sale announcement, the AHL released its 2007-2008 schedule. The Lightning's new farm team, the Norfolk Admirals, will start its season on the road against the Philadelphia Phantoms on October 5th. The Phantoms matchup kicks off the first of four games on the road which concludes with a fascinating October 14th matinee in Springfield against the Falcons. Norfolk's first home game is scheduled for October 19th when Binghamton comes to Norfolk for the first of back to back matchups at the Scope.
The full schedule can be found at TheAHL.com.
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, Lightning winger Ryan Craig has been awarded a one-year deal worth $850,000 by an arbitrator. Erlendsson reports the number is $200,000 more than Tampa Bay was seeking and about $350,000 less than Craig was looking for. Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster told Erlendsson he will honor the contract and Craig will stay a Bolt.
According to the Mississippi Sea Wolves website, the club has signed forward Torry Gajda. The 24 year old winger split last season between Cincinnati and Pensacola of the ECHL scoring 11 goals and 33 points in 49 games with 65 penalty minutes in his rookie season of professional hockey. Standing at 5'9" and 190 lbs, Gajda is an alum of Providence College. Gajda's career season in college came as a senior in 2005-2006 when he potted 14 goals and 34 points in 36 games.