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Bolts looking to Season 5 Written by Laci Bloomers - November 30th, -0001

Following a successful Season 4 in the CMHL, in which the Tampa Bay Lightning tied a team record for points, finished second in their Division, and showed very well in the playoffs, the management is looking towards Season 5 with optimism.

A busy off-season has seen a new group of faces as the Lightning prepare for the upcoming season.  An organization that was lacking in depth, with little farm system, only 4 months ago is starting to come together.

Since the playoff run which saw them come within one victory of defeating the eventual Stanley Cup winning New York Islanders in the Conference Semi-Finals, the team has continued to move players out to build the type of club they think will compete at a higher level in the CMHL. 

Cory Cross and Pavel Brendl both retired.  Prospects Julien Wlaker and Denis Kazionov were not signed, thus reentering the Free Agent pool.  Pending UFA Chris Therien was not offered a contract.

The off season started with play-off stars Ryane Clowe and Blake Comeau being shipped to San Jose, along with depth defenseman John Erskine.  Jonathan Cheechoo was the primary return, with potential star prospect Michael Blunden and D-man Nathan McIver joining the organization.

In perhaps the biggest impact trade of the offseason for the Lightning, forwards Alexander Semin, Antii Miettinen and Mark Parrish were shipped along with blueliner Dennis Seidenberg to Nashville.  Joining the Lightning was another young top line winger in Martin Havlat along with Top 4 D-Man Mike Commodore.

A trade that could pay huge dividends in the next couple of seasons saw Tim Gleason shipped with Dwight King to Toronto.  Joining the Bolts were 3 defencemen that the GM really coveted, as Paul Ranger, Mike Weber and prospect TJ Brennan joined the organization.  Forward Kris Chucko also came over, and will play in Macon this season.

Winger Jason Chimera and Macon goalie JS Aubin were the next to relocate.  The pair were sent to Long Island to join the '07-'08 Champs.  In exchange the Lightning re-obtained defensive forward Jay Pandolfo along with Marc-Antoine Pouliot.

The team's GM traded draft picks in 2 seperate deasl to get depth players for the organization.  A pair of picks were shipped to Anahiem for youngsters Casey Borer and Ondrej Fiala, while veterans Toby Peterson and Scott Nichol come over from Edmonton for a pair of picks.

The Maple Leafs came calling once again, as Aaron sent a pair of great young prospects in Brad Marchand and Dana Tyrell, along with a pair of picks, for goaltender Olaf Kolzig.

Finally, in a trade just completed yesterday, the club acquired D-man Wade Redden from Dallas for Kyle McLaren.

Moving forward towards Free Agency and the rest of the summer, the club still has a couple of holes they would like to fill.  While it is expected that several youngsters will get the opportunity to make the step up to the CMHL this season, the team would still like to acquire a strong winger who can play 2nd or 3rd line, a mobile defenceman and possibly an insurance goaltender in case rookie back-up David LeNeveu stumbles.

The projected 3rd and 4th lines for the team would likely pair a couple of young players with a veteran, with the likely combinations as of today to be Paul Gaustad centering Jay Pandolfo and Freddie Sjostrom while Toby Peterson or Marc Chouinard pivot gradulates Sean Avery and Zack Stortini.

The blueline is likely to see a graduate at #6, with Paul Ranger, Sheldon Brookbank, Rob Scuderi and Randy Jones likely the competitiors who will look to earn the spot.  The club is dangling Andy Sutton and one of the aforementioned as trade bait to acquire a stronger #4b.

With a few minor needs to backfill a very solid Top 6 up front, Top 4 at the blueline and starting goaltender, the urgency is not as serious as four months ago.   Mike Modano and Josef Stumpel make up a solid veteran 1-2 punch down the middle, and Havlat and Cheechoo join Richard Zednik and Geoff Sanderson to round out the top two lines.  Commodore and Redden join Sergei Zubov and Dennis Gauthier to form a versitile top 4 at the blueline, and Tim Thomas is going to carry the club in goal.

And for the first time in Tampa, there are players on the farm to push the veterans.

Things are looking good in the Sunshine State!


- Laci Bloomers reporting -





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