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Lightning Say Good-Bye to 4

The St. Pete Times is reporting the Lightning did not extend qualifying offers to the following players: Center Martin Cibak (Tampa Bay), Forward J.F. Soucy (San Diego ECHL), Winger Dennis Packard (Johnstown ECHL), and Defenseman Gerard Dicaire (Springfield AHL). The move means all will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Offers were extended to Lightning players Cory Sarich, Evgeni Artyukhin, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Dimitri Afanasenkov. Their rights will be maintained. Cibak was not expected to be back as he split last season between the ice and the press box. With GM Jay Feaster saying he wanted a more physical fourth line that can provide offense, the writing was on the wall for Cibak. This opens the door for either Nick Tarnasky (physical play) or recently signed Eric Perrin (offense) to step in. Both will compete with Tim Taylor for the third line spot, also. Soucy fell out of favor with the organization last season and was loaned out to multiple ECHL teams. Packard, a monster of a forward, never found his game after graduating from Harvard, and Dicaire, a promising young defenseman who almost made the Lightning squad out of junior, unfortunately had to battle injuries, ailments, and Lightning affiliate challenges in his young career.

Draft Tracker

[b]Here are the first 15 picks of the first round:[/b] 1. St. Louis: D Erik Johnson, USNTDP (US) 2. Pittsburgh: C Jordan Staal, Peterborough (OHL) 3. Chicago: C Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (WCHA) 4. Washington: C Nicklas Backstrom, Brynas (SWE) 5. Boston: C Phil Kessel, Minnesota (WCHA) 6. Columbus: C Derrick Brassard, Drummondville (QMJHL) 7. New York (I): RW Kyle Okposo, Des Moines (USHL) 8. Phoenix: C Peter Mueller, Everett (WHL) 9. Minnesota: C James Sheppard, Cape Breton (QMJHL) 10. Florida: C/W Michael Frolik, Kladno (CZE) 11. Los Angeles: G Jonathan Bernier, Lewiston (QMJHL) 12. Atlanta: C Bryan Little, Barrie (OHL) 13. Toronto: C/W Jiri Tlusty, Kladno (CZE) 14. Vancouver: RW Michael Grabner, Spokane (WHL) [b]15. Tampa Bay: G Riku Helenius, Ilves Jr (FIN Jr)[/b]

Jones/Times Mention Three Potential Picks

Work on a deal for a starting goaltender continues [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/24/Lightning/Goalie_still_tops_Lig.shtml]according to this morning's article by Tom Jones in the St. Pete Times[/url], but don't expect the Lightning to go for a goaltender or a defenseman with their top draft choice. Instead, Jones mentions Cape Breton's James Sheppard, Vasteras' Patrik Berglund and Barrie's Bryan Little, all forwards, as potential choices for the Lightning. Interesting note: the Lightning's draft list is apparently only 80 players deep this year because the club is only looking for players which meet their high character standards.

Lightning to Acquire Denis and Move Up??

The Columbus Dispatch [url=http://www.dispatch.com/bluejackets/bluejackets.php?story=dispatch/2006/06/23/20060623-F6-04.html]is reporting two rumors surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus goaltender Marc Denis.[/url] The first scenario, which appears bogus, has the Lightning moving Ruslan Fedotenko, John Grahame and a 2nd round pick for Denis. Grahame, of course, is an unrestricted free agent and the Lightning don't have a 2nd round pick in this draft making the deal impossible. The second rumor involves the Lightning moving the #15 pick and Fredrik Modin to Columbus for Denis and the #6 pick where, presumably, the Lightning would have many quality centers like Derick Brassard to choose from.

Trib: Lightning Leaning Towards Center Help

Erik Erlendsson [url=http://www.tbo.com/sports/lightning/MGB90574POE.html]previews the Lightning's draft philosophy a bit in tomorrow's Trib.[/url] In many ways echoing Bolt Prospects' own analysis of the Lightning system, Feaster confirms the team feels safe switching their concerns from any specific positional need to taking the best player available. Goaltender, apparently, is not a priority for the team as Feaster cites [url=gerald-coleman]Gerald Coleman[/url], [url=jonathan-boutin]Jonathan Boutin[/url], [url=karri-ramo]Karri Ramo[/url] and [url=vasily-koshechkin]Vasily Koshechkin[/url] are already in the fold. Instead, Erlendsson hints the team is styill looking for skill up front, particularly at the center position. Bolt Prospects lists scoring line center and offensive defenseman as the Lightning's two primary needs in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Most intriguingly in the article, Feaster puts a trade [i]up[/i] on the table as well as a trade down to pick up additional draft choices. A move up would allow the Lightning to dip into the very deep pool of centers available in the first 10-12 picks of this draft. A move down would allow the Lightning to take an offensive defenseman prospect without potentially reaching at 15.
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