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Mikhail Sergachev impresses on first day with Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev said he felt comfortable and welcomed in his first day in a Lightning uniform.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Mikhail Sergachev said he felt comfortable and welcomed in his first day in a Lightning uniform.

Mikhail Sergachev said Wednesday was kind of a tough day on the ice.

It was his first time skating in a month, having just arrived in Tampa Tuesday following a family vacation in Cyprus. Plus he had new equipment/skates, etc.

But Sergachev, 19, the prized defense prospect acquired in the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster trade with Montreal, felt comfortable and welcomed in his first day in a Lightning uniform, the second day of the development camp in Brandon.

"It's amazing," Sergachev said. "This team wants me more than Montreal. They want to see me succeed in the NHL and will try to help. That's why I love this team."

RELATED: Is Mikhail Sergachev ready for the NHL?

Sergachev was engaging, funny and candid in his first scrum with the local media. He said he believes he's ready for the NHL, but will have to prove it in training camp like any other prospect. "I'm just like everyone else," he said.

 

Sergachev thinks he's still got work to do in getting faster and stronger, something he learned in the four NHL games he played for Montreal last season.

"I played (late in the season) against Detroit and felt better," he said. "That's going to help."

 

 …

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Lightning re-signs Cory Conacher to two-year deal

Cory Conacher on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Cory Conacher on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay.

Cory Conacher said he wanted another shot in the NHL, and hoped it would be with the Lightning.

And Conacher, 27, got his wish Wednesday, signing a two-year deal with Tampa Bay. It's a one-way deal in the first year, two-way in the second, with an NHL salary of $650,000.

Conacher, along with Yanni Gourde (who signed a two-year deal Monday) were key cogs in AHL Syracuse's run to the Calder Cup Finals. Conacher led the AHL playoffs with 12 goals and 28 points, tying for the Crunch regular-season lead with 60 points. He played in 11 games for the Lightning last season, with one goal and three assists.

Conacher had signed a one-year, one-way deal with Tampa Bay last summer, rejoining a team he started his career with (2012-13). Conacher likely had some overseas options this summer, but got a two-year deal with the Lightning instead.

 

 

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Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp

Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.

BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

The 20-year-old forward just finished his fourth season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His experience showed, as he ranked in the league’s top 20 in goals (36) and assists (44).

In the World Junior Championship, the Chambly, Quebec, native took home a silver medal, with a one-goal, four-assist performance over seven games for Canada.

Joseph helped the Sea Dogs win their third President Cup, scoring two goals and notching eight assists against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Saint John would advance to the semifinal round of the Memorial Cup, with Joseph contributing two goals and three assists along the way.

And last week, the Coyotes picked Joseph’s brother — Pierre-Olivier, a 17-year-old defenseman — 23rd overall in the NHL draft.

Now in his third Lightning Development Camp at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, the 2015 draftee is ready to take the next step in his career.

“I’ve been here the last two years, so I’m kind of adapting now to the speed of the game,” he said. “There’s always good players here, so it’s pretty fun.” …

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Dan Girardi the latest defenseman on Lightning radar

Dan Girardi, 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer.

AP photo

Dan Girardi, 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer.

Veteran Dan Girardi is the latest pending free agent defenseman to draw interest from the Lightning, the Times has confirmed.

Girardi. 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer. He's a 6-foot-1, right-shot defenseman, which is a need, and would likely come relatively cheap, as the Rangers are paying him $1.1 million each of the next six years. Girardi has 122 games of playoff experience, and is still looking for an elusive Stanley Cup.

But Girardi struggled last season, including racking up a career-low 15 points. He's been banged up the last couple of years, including missing a month late in the season recovering from a right ankle wound suffered blocking a shot. Girardi played in 759 of a possible 764 games (including playoffs) from 2006 to 2014-15, no doubt taking its toll. (Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman was first to report Tampa Bay's rumored interest in Girardi.) Girardi is former Rangers teammates with Lightning's Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan. …

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Top Lightning pick Cal Foote: It's 'starting to feel more real'

Cal Foote was picked 14th overall by the Lightning in the NHL Draft.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Cal Foote was picked 14th overall by the Lightning in the NHL Draft.

For Lightning first round pick Cal Foote, this is where it started to sink in.

Foote, 18, picked 14th overall Friday in the NHL Draft, put on a Lightning jersey and practiced during the opening day of the development camp at the Ice Sports Forum. He met with staff members and executives, went through testing and drills.

"It feels more and more real every day," Foote said. "It definitely feels more real now that I’m here."

 

Foote, son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, said he'd like to work on his core strength this summer before his first NHL training camp. He also needs to work on his foot speed, which is tough with size 16s.

Foote will always hear comparisons to his dad, a mean, two-time Stanley Cup champion who racked up 1,500 penalties. But he shrugged it off.

"I think we're totally different players," Foote said. "The game has changed. I feel like I'm more of a modern defenseman, two-way."

 

Recently-acquired Mikhail Sergachev and second-round pick Alexander Volkov weren't here today, but are expected to participte Wednesday when the camp resumes. First practice is at 9:45 a.m. It's free and open to the public.

Stay tuned for more.

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Scotty Bowman says 'it's about time' Andreychuk got HOF call

Scotty Bowman drafted Dave Andreychuk in the first round (16th overall) in 1982 and coached him the first five seasons of his career.

Getty Images

Scotty Bowman drafted Dave Andreychuk in the first round (16th overall) in 1982 and coached him the first five seasons of his career.

For Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, Dave Andreychuk finally being part of a Hall of Fame class is especially gratifying.

Bowman drafted Andreychuk in the first round (16th overall) in 1982, coaching the 6-foot-4 power forward the first five seasons of his career. And now Bowman, who is part of the HOF selection committee, got to see it through that Andreychuk is going to the Hall of Fame.

"I just think it's about time we could do it," Bowman told the Tampa Bay Times Monday. "I just felt it was a travesty if he didn't get in. When you're talking about goal scoring at 600, 19 men have done it and if he's the only guy that wasn't in? Wouldn't that have an awful odor about it?"

RELATED: Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

Andreychuk scored 640 career goals, and has more power play goals than anyone in NHL history. That included 43 goals as a rookie with Bowman in Buffalo in 1982. Most of Andreychuk's damage was dirty work around the crease. …

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Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.

Times files (2004)

Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.

Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

He arrived at Amalie Arena at 8:30 a.m., reporting for work in his role as Lightning VP of corporate and community affairs.

"Not knowing that this was the day," he said.

Finally.

For Andreychuk, 53, Monday is a day he'll never forget. The former Lightning captain got the news he'll be going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It had been a long wait, Andreychuk eligible for the HOF since 2009.

RELATED: Scotty Bowman says 'it's about time' Andreychuk got HOF call

Andreychuk joins Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi, Danielle Goyette, builders Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs in the Hall of Fame class.

"I'm thankful this day came along," Andreychuk said. "For me and my family, whether it was this year or 10 years from now, it didn't matter to us. It's quite an honor."

Andreychuk is certainly deserving, with 640 career goals, and racked up the most power play goals in NHL history. He helped lead the Lightning to its only Stanley Cup in 2004. But having not  heard his name the last eight years, Andreychuk wasn't expecting anything today. …

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Lightning re-sign Yanni Gourde to two-year, one-way deal

Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.

Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fightning to stay in pro hockey.

Having been demoted from the AHL to ECHL, he took up civil engineering as a fallback.

That's what makes Gourde's two-year, one-way deal with the Lightning Monday such a gratifying, meaningful moment for the undrafted, 5-foot-9 forward. Gourde,  25, who seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season, played his way into Tampa Bay's plans, getting $1 million a year.

"It's really special," Gourde said Monday. "Most people know my story, I've been to (the ECHL). At that point, it was pretty hard, and I wouldn't believe that I would ever get a one way like that when I was down in Kalamazoo (ECHL). But now this is happening. It feels amazing. I'm ready."

Gourde was an unrestricted free agent, and received interest from some other teams when the window to court opened Sunday. But Gourde said his main focus was signing in Tampa, which signed him as a free agent three years ago. 

Credit scout Jamie Pushor, who saw Gourde in the ECHL and pushed for him, emailing assistant GM Julien BriseBois: If you're looking for a player, "keep your eye on Yanni Gourde." …

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Lightning re-signs Andrej Sustr to one-year, $1.95 million deal

Andrej Sustr 14 points in 80 games last season, a minus-10.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Andrej Sustr 14 points in 80 games last season, a minus-10.

The Lightning locked up another piece of its blueline Monday, re-signing defenseman Andrej Sustr to a one-year, $1.95 million deal.

Sustr, 26, was a restricted free agent coming off his fourth full season in the NHL. He had 14 points in 80 games last season, a minus-10.

"I was hoping to get it done, sooner than later," Sustr said. "And I'm pretty happy, now I can focus on training."

With the Lightning losing veteran Jason Garrison to Vegas in the expansion draft, re-signing Sustr - at a short term, relatively cheap deal - provides some insurance on the back end. Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn are returning. And the Lightning is going to give young defensemen Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek and recently-acquired Mikhail Sergachev a chance to make the team out of training camp.

"I definitely want to take a little bit more of a leadership role," Sustr said. "We have some young defensemen in the same position I was a few years ago. I'll do what I can to help those guys out."

Sustr, who was left unprotected, said he didn't know what would happen in the expansion draft, watching it at home in Montreal with some friends. …

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Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.

As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

That's easy to do for Boyle, whose wife, Lauren, gave birth to their second child, daughter Isabella, on May 24. On Sunday, Boyle, 32, played in the backyard of his Hingham, Mass home with his three-year-old son, Declan. But Boyle took some time to talk to the Tampa Bay Times about his future. 

"It's going to be an interesting week," Boyle said.

And Boyle, dealt to Toronto at the March trade deadline, said he's interested in returning to the Lightning.

"We love Tampa," Boyle told the Times. "If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that's definitely a huge option for us. That's something that I've kind of always thought about. I haven't closed the door on anything."

The question is whether the feeling is mutual? The Lightning is looking to add at least one, if not two, forwards to its top-nine. Yzerman is targeting the wing, right or left, and Boyle - a natural center - played the wing a lot late in his three-year stint with Tampa Bay. But the Lightning wasn't among the first group of teams to contact Boyle's camp Sunday when the window for courting unrestricted free agents opened. …

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Lightning reach out to UFA Kevin Shattenkirk

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blueline and adding another wing or two.

And it sounds like Tampa Bay is kicking the tires on the biggest fish in the free agent market, veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Lightning is one of many teams who checked in with Shattenkirk Sunday, per sources. The window for teams to court pending unrestricted free agents opened at midnight.

Shattenkirk, 28, is a puck-moving, right-shot, top-four defenseman, who is more than capable of quarterbacking a power play. That would certainly fit a need for Tampa Bay. But it won't come cheap. Shattenkirk, who made $4.25 million last season, will likely net a huge long-term deal this summer in a small free agent market for defensemen. There will be a number of teams interested.

Shattenkirk had 13 goals and 43 assists last season, which was split between St. Louis and Washington, which acquired him at the trade deadline. The Lightning attempted to acquire him last season, but Shattenkirk reportedly nixed a potential deal from St. Louis to Tampa in January. …

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Lightning announce development camp schedule

Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev headlines a roster of top Lightning prospects that will attend this week's development camp at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

The camp, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, is free and open to the public.

The first practice starts at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with drills doing until 3 p.m. There is a 3-on-3 tournament Friday (2 p.m.-4) and Saturday (11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). Russian wing Alex Vokov, the second round pick Saturday, will also not arrive until Wednesday. …

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Lightning opens day two of draft by taking Russian forwards

After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the NHL Draft was headlined by a couple skilled Russian forwards.

Tampa Bay selected 6-foot-1 winger Alexander Volkov in the second round (No. 48), with hopes to sign him and send him to AHL Syracuse next season. In the third round, the Lightning was thrilled to have center Alexei Lipanov fell to them at No. 76.

Tampa Bay is no stranger to drafting Russians, picking No. 1 goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in the first round in 2012, and Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov with back-to-back picks in 2011. The Lightning recently acquired D Mikhail Sergachev from Montreal in the Jonathan Drouin blockbuster.

"There's still some bias somewhere with some Russian players - we don't have that bias in our organization," said Al Murray, Lightning director of amateur scouting. "We want the best players."

Murray said the Lightning got a jump on Volkov, who likely fell under the radar due to an ankle before the World Juniors, which forced him to miss most of the season. Murray said several other teams congratulated them on the Volkov pick, noting he was coming up quickly on their list. …

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Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.

Getty Images

Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.

While the Lightning is still trying to bolster its blueline via trade, it selected a big, right shot defenseman Cal Foote at No. 14 overall Friday in the NHL Draft.

Foote, 18, is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote. He has size and physicality like his dad, but Cal also can score, with 57 points in 71 games with Keowna (WHL).

There were plenty of options available for the Lightning, including Russian power forward Klim Kostin. But Tampa Bay added a strong right shot defenseman into its system.

 

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Lightning unveils road jersey, events for 25th anniversary season

The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey

The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

That event will be held Nov. 4 before a game against the Blue Jackets, coached by former Lightning coach John Tortorella. That means Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards will likely be reunited again.

 

 

Other events include a Brew Fest Aug. 5, and a ceremony to recognize the original 1992-93 team Oct. 14. There's also a ceremony celebrating the 25 favorite Lightning personnel (players, executives, personalities), which is TBA. Tampa Bay will host the All Star Game Jan. 27-28.

There is, however, no plans as of yet to have a jersey retirement ceremony, VP Bill Wickett said. Would think Lecavalier's No. 4 is next, with Marty St. Louis the first to get retired last season.

The Lightning also unveiled its new road jersey, which will no longer have "Tampa Bay" on the front, just the logo. There will be a 25th anniversary patch on the right shoulder.

 

 

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