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Lightning hires Brad Lauer as assistant coach

Brad Lauer, 48, spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, responsible for the power play.

Courtesy of Tampa Bay Lightning

Brad Lauer, 48, spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, responsible for the power play.

The Lightning has hired Brad Lauer to be an assistant under Jon Cooper and presumably work with the power play. 

General manager Steve Yzerman has said he was considering bringing in another assistant, which would likely focus on improving the power play, which was inconsistent, especially in the playoffs. Lauer, 48, spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, responsible for the power play, which was 28th last season and 22nd in 2013-14. Lauer was fired after the season. 

Cooper had an opening on his staff after George Gwozdecky left to pursue other opportunities, eventually taking a high school job in Colorado. 

Lauer, a former NHL left wing, played in 323 games with four teams. 

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Lightning hires Brad Lauer as assistant coach

The Lightning has hired Brad Lauer to be an assistant coach to add to coach Jon Cooper's staff. 

General manager Steve Yzerman had said he was contemplating bringing in another assistant to work with the power play. Lauer, 48, was responsible for the power play in Anaheim, where he spent the last four seasons before getting fired in the offseason. The Ducks were 28th on the power play last season, 22nd in 2013-14. 

There was an opening on the Tampa Bay staff after George Gwozdecky left following this season to pursue other opportunities, eventually taking a high school coaching job in Colorado. 

Lauer was a former NHL left wing who played 323 games with the Penguins, Blackhawks, Senators and Islanders. 

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Tyler Johnson hopes to be ready for camp

Lightning center Tyler Johnson interrupted his shortened offseason in Spokane, Wash to make a quick trip to Tampa Wednesday.

But it was for good reason, as Johnson, 25, had a check-up with doctors over his broken right wrist, getting to finally remove his brace.

"It's recovering on the timeline," Johnson said.

Johnson got hurt in Game 1 of June's Stanley Cup final when he awkwardly landed on the ice after a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. The injury significantly hampered the All-Star in the heartbreaking, 4-2 series loss to Chicago.

Johnson, limited to cardio, core and light upper-body workouts since the season ended, hopes to be full participation when training camp opens Sept. 17 at Amalie Arena, but isn't sure.

"I'm going to do everything I possibly can to be ready," he said. "There's still a lot of time."

Johnson admits it's "upsetting" to think what could have happened had he not got hurt. He still led the NHL with 13 goals and 23 points in the postseason, but was held to two points in six games against the Blackhawks, and stopped taking faceoffs. …

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Bolts name 'The Chief's' successor: Brian Engblom to take over as color analyst

Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, left, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pregame, postgame and intermission shows. Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom, right, will be the team's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham.

Times files

Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, left, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pregame, postgame and intermission shows. Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom, right, will be the team's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham.

The Lightning finally found its replacement for "The Chief."

Former NHL defenseman and veteran broadcaster Brian Engblom will be the Lightning's new color analyst for Sun Sports, joining play-by-play man Rick Peckham.

"I'm thrillled, it's an awesome opportunity," Engblom told the Times in a phone interview. "I'm still a player at heart. That's what you miss at the national level, being connected to the team. It's a big difference when you do national games. It's that connection to the team, it's being around them all the time, at practice everyday, traveling with them. You really feel part of it."

Engblom, 60, was working as "Inside the Glass" analyst for NBC Sports Network, and will replace Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who had been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94. Taylor announced early last season that it would be his last in the booth as he transitions to a role on the pre, post and intermission shows.

Taylor and former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk will provide analysis in the studio, with Chris Dingman, another former Lightning player, not expected to return.

Lightning executive VP Bill Wickett said there were many considered, but "when you get a national broadcaster to join your team locally, it's too good to pass up." Kevin Weekes and Bill Jaffe were believed to be other finalists.

Engblom, who won three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, also played for the Kings, Sabres, Capitals and Flames during his 11-year NHL career. He has been in broadcasting for two decades, including stints with ESPN Versus and, most recently, NBC Sports Network. He also did local broadcasts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005-06, as well as the Jets most recently.

When Engblom saw an article in December stating that Taylor was leaving the booth, he was immediately interested. Pretty soon after, Engblom did a Lightning game in Pittsburgh for NBC Sports, and spoke with Taylor and Peckham, both of whom he's known for years.

"I mentioned to Rick not too long after that I'd definitely be interested in that job," Engblom said. "And it started from there."

Engblom said he's worked a few games with Peckham for NBC and says he's "extremely easy to work with" and expects chemistry to be found quickly.

"I have zero worries about that," Engblom said. "It'll take us three minutes into our first game to get back to that and after that we'll sail right along." …

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Lightning sets roster for prospect tournament

Former first round pick defenseman Anthony DeAngelo will headline the group.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Former first round pick defenseman Anthony DeAngelo will headline the group.

The Lightning announced its roster for the prospect tournament, which it will host from Sept 12-15 in Estero at Germain Arena.

Former first round pick defenseman Anthony DeAngelo will headline the group, which also includes defenseman Slater Koekkoek, forward Brayden Point and Adam Erne. Matthew Peca and Adam Wilcox will also participate. Six of the nine picks from the June draft will be there, too. The Lightning prospects will practice in Brandon at the Ice Sports Forum on Sept 10-11 before heading south for the tournament, which also features the Capitals, Predators and Panthers.

Here's the roster:

Forwards: Anthony Cirelli, Cam Darcy, Cristiano DiGiacinto, Adam Erne, Brian Hart, Henri Ikonen, Bokondji Imama, Mathieu Joseph, Matthew Peca, Brayden Point, Mitchell Stephens, Joel Vermin, Dennis Yan.

Defensemen: Dylan Blujus, Anthony DeAngelo, Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek, Dominik Masin, Matt Spencer, Ben Thomas, Daniel Walcott.

Goaltenders: Kristers Gudlevskis, Adam Wilcox

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Tampa named one of five finalists for 2018 world junior hockey championship

Brett Connolly of Canada and Miro Hovinen of Finland battle for the puck during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships in Calgary, Alberta.

Getty Images

Brett Connolly of Canada and Miro Hovinen of Finland battle for the puck during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships in Calgary, Alberta.

Tampa is one of five finalists to host the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, USA Hockey announced Tuesday.

The other finalists are Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

More than 300,000 fans attended this year's tournament in Canada to watch the world's top players under 20. Tampa has experience hosting other big tournaments; the NCAA's Frozen Four is coming to Amalie Arena for the second time in April.

USA Hockey said the list of contenders will likely be trimmed in the next two months, and a host will be decided by the end of the year.

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Lightning lands eight games on NBC Sports schedule

The list of games to be shown on NBC or NBCSN includes two Lightning-Rangers games in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The list of games to be shown on NBC or NBCSN includes two Lightning-Rangers games in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final.

The Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup final will pay off with eight nationally televised games, NBC announced Monday.

The list of games to be shown on NBC or NBCSN includes two Lightning-Rangers games in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final, at Amalie Arena on Dec. 30 and at New York on April 5.

The other nationally televised games: At Detroit (Oct. 13), at St. Louis (Oct. 27), vs. Buffalo (Nov. 10), at Colorado (Jan. 12), vs. Detroit (Feb. 3) and at Boston (Feb. 28).

The Lightning opens the regular season at home against the Flyers on Oct. 8.

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Tod Leiweke resigns as Lightning CEO, Steve Griggs to take over

Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke has resigned from the team to become the NFL's chief operating officer, the Lightning announced Friday.

Team president Steve Griggs will take over as the Lightning's CEO.

"Tod has been instrumental in our franchise transformation and I am grateful for all his work and dedication," team owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement. "During Tod's five years with the Lightning, we have set our franchise on a trajectory for excellence with Steve Griggs and an outstanding management team working beside him every step of the way. Steve is ready for the additional responsibilities that come with being CEO, and, as a testament to Tod, we will not miss a beat moving forward."

Griggs has been in the sports business for more than two decades, spending time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild and Orlando Magic. He became the Lightning's president in April 2014. …

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Tampa puts in bid to host 2018 WJC

Connor McDavid of Canada looks to shoot the puck near Brandon Carlo of the U.S. during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Getty Images

Connor McDavid of Canada looks to shoot the puck near Brandon Carlo of the U.S. during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Tampa has put in an official bid to host the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships. 

The WJC is a prestigious and popular tournament featuring the top junior players in the world, many of whom make the NHL. About 350,000 attended this year's tournament in Montreal and Toronto. 

Tampa, which will host its second Frozen Four (NCAA Championship) in April at Amalie Arena, likely will have some strong competition. While it is unclear what other cities put in their bids by the end of June deadline, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Arizona were among the teams that had reportedly shown interest. 

The host city will be decided by the end of this year, says USA Hockey's Dave Fischer, who has been "very impressed" with Tampa from its atmospheres at the Frozen Four and Stanley Cup playoffs. Germain Arena in Estero would be the second rink used if Tampa won the bid. 

"Tampa is very formidable in the conversation," Fischer, the senior director of communications, told the Times. "The (Lightning) owner (Jeff Vinik) and sports commission is aggressive. We'll see where it winds up." 

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Stamkos contract negotiations haven't started yet

The Lightning and captain Steven Stamkos haven't begun negotiations for a contract extension, agent Don Meehan said Wednesday. 

But that shouldn't be a cause for concern, mostly a reflection of how Tampa Bay's season didn't end until mid-June. 

"For the moment, simply an issue of timing," Meehan told the Times. 

Stamkos has one year remaining on his current deal, with a $7.5 million cap hit next season. General manager Steve Yzerman said re-signing Stamkos was his "No. 1 priority" this offseason. Stamkos is expected to warrant a deal in the range of the eight-year, $84 million extensions Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed last summer. The fact the Blues inked star Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, $60 million deal this week likely means Stamkos' price isn't coming down. 

Stamkos didn't return home to Toronto until late June, and Meehan has said he wouldn't start talks with Tampa Bay until he sat down with the star center, the league's second leading scorer last season (43 goals). Stamkos has said he's not "losing any sleep" over a new deal, though hoped to get one done before the season so it's not a "distraction."  …

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Lightning signs veteran forward Jeff Tambellini to two-way contract

The Lightning has signed veteran winger Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract, the team announced Sunday.

The 31-year-old Tambellini has skated in 242 career NHL games but none since 2010-11. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward spent last season in Europe’s Swiss-A and Swedish leagues.

Tambellini has 27 goals and 63 points over six NHL seasons with the Kings, Islanders and Canucks. His most productive season came in 2010-11, when he recorded nine goals and eight assists and was plus-10 in 62 games for Vancouver.

He entered the league as the 2003 draft’s No. 27 overall pick, to the Kings.

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Brayden Point, Matthew Peca among Friday's standouts at Lightning prospect camp

BRANDON - The Lightning's development camp continued today at the Ice Sports Forum with three-on-three games. Some highlights:

Left wing Adam Erne did participate. He looked fine, despite recovering from a separated left shoulder, scoring three goals in one of his games, with one coming on an impressive slap shot.

Forward Matthew Peca led all players 12 points and eight goals. Two other big-name prospects, center Brayden Point and 2015 second-round pick Mitchell Stephens, were tied for the lead with seven assists.

Last year's first-round pick, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, and 2012 second rounder Brian Hart both had five goals.

The leading goalie was invitee Jamie Murray, who had the top save percentage (.829) and the most saves (82). Former University of Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox had the fewest saves (58) and the bottom save percentage (.690).

 

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Former Lightning captain Marty St. Louis retires from the NHL

Marty St. Louis spent parts of 13 seasons with the Lightning and helped Tampa Bay win its only Stanley Cup in 2004.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Marty St. Louis spent parts of 13 seasons with the Lightning and helped Tampa Bay win its only Stanley Cup in 2004.

Former Lightning captain Marty St. Louis has retired.

The 40-year-old winger - who was with the Lightning for parts of 13 of his 16 NHL seasons - announced his retirement Thursday afternoon after his run to the Eastern Conference final with the Rangers. He ends his NHL career with 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 regular season games. 

"I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride," St. Louis said in a statement. "I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents. …

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Erik Condra signs three-year deal with Lightning

Erik Condra (22) has played the last five seasons with the Senators, racking up nine goals and 14 assists in 68 games. He's also good on the penalty kill.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Erik Condra (22) has played the last five seasons with the Senators, racking up nine goals and 14 assists in 68 games. He's also good on the penalty kill.

The Lightning won't get an extension done with captain Steven Stamkos today, as that will likely take some time.

But Tampa Bay did made an addition during the opening day of free agency, signing wing Erik Condra to a three-year deal, which carries a $1.25 million average. With GM Steve Yzerman saying they don't plan to bring back veteran Brenden Morrow, the Lightning wanted to add one more forward, and Condra came well-recommended by their scouts.

Condra, 28, is expected to be a key bottom-six winger who can play both left and right side, and be a contributor on the penalty kill.

"We think he's a good player, a versatile player," Yzerman said. "His hockey sense is really good, a good competitor."

Condra has a connection with coach Jon Cooper, who coached the wing in Texarkana (USHL) in 2003-04. Condra was also an usher in Cooper's wedding.

With Condra's signing, Yzerman indicated the Lightning is done in free agency. Tampa Bay will have 13 forwards, and Yzerman said Condra's addition doesn't change the fact he expects Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin to get more opportunities to play next season.

"I'm counting on them to play a bigger role," Yzerman said. …

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Quiet Lightning free agency, Stamkos talks expected

Steven Stamkos likely will warrant a new deal in the eight-year, $84 million range that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got from the Blackhawks last summer.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steven Stamkos likely will warrant a new deal in the eight-year, $84 million range that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got from the Blackhawks last summer.

Update 12:21 p.m.  Though the Lightning was expecting to be quiet, it wasn't going to do nothing. And Tampa Bay has apparently expressed interest in Ottawa RW Erik Condra (per SportsNet), who played for coach Jon Cooper in Texarkana, and Russian RR Viktor Tikhonov (per Ryan Kennedy).

Tampa Bay isn't expected to bring back UFA Brenden Morrow, but if the Lightning signs either one of those two, it would have to make room on its forward roster to do so.

Also, there  have been no negotiations between Tampa Bay and RFA C Vladislasv Namestnikov yet, but he has a qualifying offer and something is expected to get done.

Developing: The NHL free agency period opens at noon today, and though the Lightning isn't expected to do anything significant, there will still be plenty to talk about.

That holds especially true with today being the first day captain Steven Stamkos can sign a contract extension. Stamkos, 25, who has one year remaining on his five-year deal, will carry a cap hit of $7.5 million next season. He will likely will warrant a new deal in the eight-year, $84 million range that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got from the Blackhawks last summer. …

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