Two prospects signed
It was a busy day for the Lightning. Not only did it sign new assistant coach Mike Sullivan, it signed prospects Riku Helenius, a goaltender and the team's first-round choice in 2006, and sharpshooting forward Chris Lawrence, a third-round pick in 2005, to three-year contracts.
Helenius was taken with the 15th overall pick last season in 2006, when the Finn was considered the No. 1 European goaltender in the draft. But the 6-foot-3, 202-pounder missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. If he can regain the form he showed in 2005-06, when he had a 2.68 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage for Ilves Tampere Junior, the 19-year-old will be someone to watch. He played six games at the 2006 World under-18 championships and was 4-1-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
Lawrence, 20, could be a future answer to the Lightning's lack of depth at forward. The 6-4, 212-pounder was fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with 47 goals for Mississauga and had 88 points. He also led his team with 15 power-play goals and six winners. Like many junior players, consistency will be Lawrence's biggest project. As general manager Jay Feaster said in the release announcing his the signing: "The only thing holding Chris back from achieving greatness in professional hockey will be Chris Lawrence and the issue of how badly he wants to be a special player.''