The 2007 NHL Entry Draft taking place Friday and Saturday aren't the only drafts taking place in the next week. Next Wednesday, June 27th, the CHL will hold their 2007 Import Draft which takes on added importance as rumors persist that 2006 1st round pick Riku Helenius might cross the pond to play Canadian junior hockey next season.
Also in today's St. Pete Times, Damian Crisdotero breaks down the Lightning system by NHL readiness. One surprise on the list: defenseman Justin Fletcher from St. Cloud State who played well during an ATO stint with the Springfield Falcons at the end of last season. According to Crisdotero, Fletcher has signed a one year deal with the Lightning organization.
There have also been rumors that the Lightning are interested in bringing Falcons tryout forward Jacob Micflikier into the fold in Norfolk as well, although nothing substantial has surfaced as of yet.
Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times is reporting on his blog goaltender Vasily Koshechkin will stay in Russia this season. Crisdotero cites a conversation with Koshechkin's agent Jay Grossman in which the netminder expressed a sense of obligation to honor the final year of his Superleague contract. Koshechkin's contract was recent sold from Lada Togliatti to Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague. Early reports from this summer that had Koshechkin on the way to CSKA turned out to be unsubstantiated.
The Tampa Bay Lightning issued a press release today reporting that the team has re-signed defenseman Shane O'Brien to a two-year deal. The deal is reported to pay O'Brien $2M over the next 2 years, with $875k coming this season and $1.125M due the following. O'Brien's NHL salary last season paid $495k.
For fans and followers of the Lightning farm system, there's a very telling article in the St. Pete Times today by Damian Cristodero detailing the condition of the Lightning's prospects, in particular the forwards, as the club approaches the 2007 draft.
The story includes honest and objective opinions from Lightning GM Jay Feaster and Head Scout Jake Goertzen. Cristodero also includes the opinions of Barry Trapp, former head scout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.