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Several hurdles to overcome before G Riku Helenius would return to the Tampa Bay Lightning

Though the Tampa Bay Lightning has "tested the waters" to see if goaltender Riku Helenius wants to return to the Lightning, assistant general manager Julien BriseBois was clear Wednesday, Helenius is seen as "a prospect." In other words, he is not considered the immediate answer to the big club's goaltending search and would have to take a two-way contract if he wants to again play for the organization that made him the 15th overall pick of the 2006 draft.

Under the best of circumstances that would make Helenius, 24, difficult to sign as he has firmly established himself in Europe, where he could command more money and playing time. But there is another speed bump. Helenius has one year left on his contract with Jyp of the Finnish elite league, BriseBois wrote in a text message, and the NHL does not currently have a transfer agreement with the Finnish Hockey Federation.

"However," BriseBois wrote, "we are aware that talks have taken place and we are optimistic that there will be an agreement between the NHL and the Finnish Federation."

As for Helenius, BriseBois wrote, "He had a really good season, and he is still young."

Helenius is an interesting case. He was a disappointment and hampered by injury before leaving for Europe during the 2009-10 season in an attempt to revive his career. He did that, playing two years in Sweden and this year leading Jyp to a league championship. Helenius had a 1.64 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in 33 regular-season games, and a 1.73 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in 13 playoff games.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:17am]

    

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