Tampa Bay Lightning signs three for depth and adds an ECHL affiliate in Estero
The Tampa Bay Lightning signed thee players on Thursday and announced a one-year affiliation with the Florida Everblades in Estero, south of Fort Myers, one of the most successful franchises in the ECHL, to begin in 2010-11.
Tampa Bay signed AHL Norfolk defenseman Vladimir Mihalik and free-agent blue-liners Mathieu Roy and Mike Vernace.
Mihalik, 6 feet 7, 244 pounds, played in 75 games with the Admirals last season with two goals and 18 points. Roy played 31 games with the Blue Jackets last season and had a career-high 10 assists. Vernace split last season between AHL Chicago and Hamilton. In 47 games with Chicago, he had two goals and 12 points.
The Everblades, founded in 1998, are a current affiliate of the Hurricanes. That relationship will continue with the Lightning and Carolina being equal partners. The Everblades have made 12 straight playoff appearances and became the first ECHL team to make back-to-back appearances in the Kelly Cup final in 2004 and 2005. The Everblades had the best regular-season record in the ECHL in 1998-99 and 2008-09. The team has averaged 6,288 fans at home games in its history.
"That is exactly the type of winning environment our players should develop in," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a release.
Tampa Bay will provide players under both AHL and NHL contracts, the team announced. The Lightning has not had an ECHL affiliate since the Augusta Lynx ceased operations in December 2008.