Tampa Bay and Montreal complete a minor league deal

1 Comment

Tell me if you’ve heard this line this summer:  Tampa Bay makes a deal to acquire someone from the Montreal Canadiens. This time around, the teams have made a minor-league trade of goaltenders as the Lightning have sent one-time prospect goalie Karri Ramo to the Canadiens in exchange for AHL all-star goalie Cedrick Desjardins.This deal works out to be rather interesting for both teams.

For Tampa Bay, they acquire yet another player that Lightning head coach Guy Boucher is familiar with and he’ll get to develop his game more in the Lightning minor leagues. The one issue there is that the Lightning are loaded with goaltending prospects at the moment. Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have the NHL jobs locked down and they have Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus ready to go in the minors as well. Throwing Desjardins into the mix means that one of Tokarski, Janus or Desjardins will be playing for the Lightning’s new ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades. At least they’ll be playing nearby.

For Montreal, they gain a guy who once had top prospect status with the Lightning in Karri Ramo. Ramo spent last year playing for Jaromir Jagr’s KHL team Avangard Omsk. While you’d like to think that Ramo getting a new change of scenery might bring him back from Russia, earlier this summer he stated that he was going to play out his two-year contract with Omsk.

Ramo’s agent, Mark Gandler, said Friday that his client could have opted out of the second year of his two-year contract, but decided in early May to stay. Tampa Bay was between general managers at the time. Gandler declined comment when asked if that affected the process.

Ramo, 24, was 21-17-4 in 44 games for Omsk with a 2.11 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and four shutouts. Gandler said Ramo, who still is Lightning property, would like to return to Tampa Bay after his stint in Russia.

“If the stars align, we’ll get it done.” Gandler said.

Whether this trade changes Ramo’s mind to come back sooner than he expected remains to be seen and I’m sure we’ll hear more about this soon given how Montreal might want to have him close at hand should Carey Price struggle or Alex Auld get hurt. Ideally for Ramo, this deal frees him up to be the next in line for the Habs. We’ll see how committed to Russia he is or if the Habs have another trick up their sleeve.

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

1 Comment

There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.