TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, assigned ten players to the Admirals today including six players returning from the 2008-09 Norfolk squad, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. Returning to the Norfolk roster from last season are goaltender Riku Helenius, defensemen Vladimir Mihalik and Ty Wishart, and forwards Blair Jones, Juraj Simek and Paul Szczechura. Goaltenders Jaroslav Janus and Dustin Tokarski and forwards Martins Karsums and Dana Tyrell have also been assigned to the Admirals.
Helenius, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound goaltender from Palkane, Finland, led the Admirals in both goals-against average (GAA) and save percentage in his first North American professional season. In 25 games with Norfolk, the 21-year-old went 9-15-0 with one shutout, a 2.72 GAA and a .918 save percentage. Drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round (15th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, made his NHL debut in relief on January 30 with Tampa Bay versus Philadelphia and stopped the two shots he faced in his only career NHL action to this point. Helenius also appeared in 11 ECHL games last season between the Augusta Lynx and Mississippi Sea Wolves, going 4-5-2 with a 3.80 GAA.
Janus, a 5-foot-11, 192-pound goaltender from Presov, Slovakia, was drafted by the Lightning earlier this year in the sixth round (162nd overall). The 20-year-old played his second season of North American hockey in 2008-09 with the OHL’s Erie Otters, going 25-20-4 with a 3.24 GAA.
Tokarski, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound goaltender from Watson, Saskatchewan, is making his professional debut this season. The 20-year-old was drafted by the Lightning in the fifth round (122nd overall) in 2008. He has won the 2006 Canadian Midget National Championship with the Prince Albert Mintos, the 2008 Memorial Cup with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, and taken home the gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships for Team Canada. Last season, Tokarski broke his own Spokane franchise records with a 1.97 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and seven shutouts while going 34-18-2 in 54 games.
Mihalik, a 6-foot-7, 222-pound native of Presov, Slovakia, recorded two goals and 15 points in 61 games for the Admirals last season. He also appeared in his first 11 career NHL games with the Lightning, posting three assists. Mihalik was drafted by the Lightning in the first round (30th overall) in 2005. He has three goals and 28 assists in 129 career AHL games – all with Norfolk.
Wishart, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman from Comox, British Columbia, appeared in 61 games with Norfolk last season as a pro rookie and posted one goal and six assists. He also appeared in his first five career NHL games with Tampa Bay recording an assist. The 21-year-old was acquired by the Lightning from San Jose on July 4, 2008. He was drafted by San Jose in the first round (16th overall) in 2006. He has one goal and six assists in 66 career AHL games with Norfolk and Worcester.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, set career highs with 20 goals, 34 assists and 54 points in 80 games for the Admirals last season. He ranked second in scoring, fourth in goals, second in assists and tied for second in power play goals (8) with Norfolk. He also established a new AHL Admirals franchise record with 271 shots on goal, ranking third in the American Hockey League.
Jones, 22, has appeared in 155 games with the Admirals over the past two seasons, tallying 34 goals and 96 points. He ranks 12th all-time in AHL Admirals scoring and is just four points away from becoming the tenth player to record 100 points in his AHL Admirals career. Jones has appeared in 200 career AHL contests between Norfolk and the Springfield Falcons, recording 39 goals and 117 points.
Jones was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round (102nd overall) in 2005. He has appeared in 24 career NHL contests with the Lightning, recording one goal and three points.
Karsums, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound forward from Riga, Latvia, has played in 24 career NHL games with Tampa Bay and Boston. During his first NHL season in 2009-10, he amassed a goal and six points. He played in 18 games with the Lightning after being acquired from Boston in a trade on March 4, 2009. The 23-year-old was drafted by Boston in the second round (64th overall) in 2004.
Karsums has played in 176 career AHL games with the Providence Bruins, amassing 50 goals and 139 points. He has appeared in 22 career Calder Cup Playoff games, recording 10 goals and 14 points. Karsums represented his native Latvia during the 2009 World Championships in Switzerland, recording a goal and four points with 27 penalty minutes.
Simek, a 6-foot-1, 189-pound forward born in Presov, Slovakia, appeared in 63 games for the Admirals last season recording AHL career highs with nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points. The 21-year-old was acquired by Tampa Bay from the Vancouver Canucks on October 6, 2008. Simek has appeared in 129 career AHL games between Norfolk and the Manitoba Moose and has amassed 16 goals and 23 assists. He was originally drafted in the sixth round (167th overall) in 2006 by Vancouver.
Szczechura, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound center from Brantford, Ontario, appeared in 33 games with the Admirals last season with 13 goals and 16 assists. He also appeared in his first 31 career NHL games with the Lightning, recording four goals and nine assists. The 23-year-old was signed by the Lightning on April 24, 2008, after having a successful season with the Admirals on an AHL contract in 2007-08. In 100 career AHL games between Norfolk and the Iowa Stars, Szczechura has 32 goals and 35 assists.
Tyrell, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward from Airdrie, Alberta, will make his professional debut this season. The 20-year-old was drafted by the Lightning in the second round (47th overall) in 2007. Last season, Tyrell appeared in 30 games with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars as team captain and recorded 19 goals and 21 assists before suffering an injury during an exhibition game with Team Canada during the World Junior Championships. Tyrell previously played for the Admirals on an Amateur Tryout Contract at the end of the 2007-08 season, recording one goal and five assists in his first 11 professional games.
The Admirals head to Hershey for a 5:00 tilt at the Giant Center tomorrow evening. They then return home to prepare for the regular season opener, which is back in Hershey on Saturday, October 3.
The Admirals open the home portion of their season on Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10, against the Manchester Monarchs. Friday night is Military Appreciation Night with $9 tickets for individuals and $8 tickets for groups with valid ID. For complete details, please visit norfolkadmirals.com.
Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2009-10 season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!