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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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Lightning signs Andrej Sustr to two year deal

Andrej Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Andrej Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games.

The Lightning has signed defenseman Andrej Sustr to a two-year, $2.9 million deal.

It comes as little surprise as Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games. Sustr was in the third pairing, for the most part, with veteran Matt Carle.

A 6-foot-7, 220-pound defenseman, Sustr still has some room to improve, coming off just his second NHL season.

Tampa Bay is expected to come to deals with its other restricted free agents, including center Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski.

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Andreychuk not in 2015 Hall of Fame class

Dave Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2003)

Dave Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon.

For former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, the wait continues. 

Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon. 

The five-player class included four male players, with Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley. Women's star Angela Ruggiero also made it, with Peter Karmanos in as a builder. 

While Lidstrom, Fedorov and Pronger appeared to be locks, you could make an argument Andreychuk should have made it in over Housley. Andreychuk has 640 career goals, 14th all time, the only 600-goal scorer in league history not in the Hall of Fame. Andreychuk also has NHL record for power play goals. Andreychuk captained the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004, remaking his game late in his 23-year career. 

Andreychuk should get in at some point, and next year isn't a strong group of first year eligibles. It's just a matter of time.  

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Barberio not issued qualifying offer by Lightning

Defenseman Mark Barberio was not given a qualifying offer and will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defenseman Mark Barberio was not given a qualifying offer and will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

In some ways, Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio saw the writing on the wall.

Barberio, 25, essentially the team's seventh defenseman the past two seasons, played in just one game during the two-month Stanley Cup playoff run, with rookie Nikita Nesterov emerging. So when Barberio, 24, was not given a qualifying offer Monday, "it wasn't a complete shock."

Barberio, the Lightning's sixth round pick in 2008, will be an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.

"It's still tough," Barberio said in a phone interview. "Especially when it's your first team, it's all you know. You fall in love with the team. But another team can give you a shot. It's not always a bad thing, change can be good."

The Lightning announced Monday the five restricted free agents it has given qualifying offers to by today's deadline, including defensemen Andrej Sustr and Luke Witkowski, along with center Vladislav Namestnikov and prospects Carter Ashton and Philippe Paradis. Forward Mike Blunden was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. …

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Lightning make qualifying offers to three, sign Marchessault

The Lightning continues to chip away at its offseason checklist, making qualifying offers to defensemen Andrej Sustr and Luke Witkowski, along with center Vladislav Namestnikov.

Tampa Bay also signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two-way deal and forward Brian Hart to a three-year, two-way entry level contract.

In making a qualifying offers to Sustr, 24, Witkowski and Namestnikov, team retains their rights, with both sides planning to continue to talk. Tampa Bay has until Monday's deadline to extend offers to its other RFAs, including defenseman Mark Barberio, who could end up the odd man out.

Signing Marchessault, 24, another restricted fre agent, was an easy call, having led the AHL Syracuse Crunch in scoring, earning two appearances during the Lightning's playoff run. While Marchessault is on a two-way deal, he's still waiver eligible, so he'll be a player to watch during training camp. If Marchessault doesn't make the roster, he could be lost to another team (like Richard Panik did last year).

Hart, 21, a second-round pick in 2012, had 18 goals and 50 points in three seasons at Harvard. He'll bring some size (6-2) to the Crunch forward group next season. …

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Will Dave Andreychuk finally get the call into Hall of Fame?

The Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee will announce the 2015 inductees Monday at 4 p.m.

And it certainly seems like it could be time for former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk to get his much-awaited call.

The committee can add up to four male members. There are a few no-doubt locks like Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger, as well as likely Sergei Fedorov. But you could make a strong case for Andreychuk as a possible fourth Andreychuk is the only 600-goal scorer (640) not already in the Hall of Fame, has the most power play goals in NHL history (274). Andreychuk also captained the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, remaking his game at the latter stages of his career.

There are many others worthy of consideration, including Mark Recchi (1,533 points), Jeremy Roenick (513 goals and 1,216 points), Eric Lindros and Phil Housley (1,232 points). Andreychuk, 51, currerntly the Lightning's VP for corporate and community affairs, will be a Hall of Famer at some point.

Maybe it'll be Monday.

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