Tag: Andrej Sustr

Slater Koekkoek; Dion Phaneuf

Looking to make the leap: Slater Koekkoek


Depending upon how you define “making the leap,” plenty of Tampa Bay Lightning youngsters could qualify for this post.

That’s part of what makes the group GM Steve Yzerman assembled so scary: there are a ton of quality prime-age players who broke through recently or may break through soon.

Even beyond the very-young Triplets, you have Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Nesterov and Andrei Vasilevskiy expecting bigger things, possibly as soon as 2015-16.

There are plenty of almost-there guys who can make the jump, too, from Adam Erne to Anthony DeAngelo.

Here’s a vote for Slater Koekkoek.

As the 10th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old seems like he’s primed for an arrival sooner rather than later.

He got his feet wet at the NHL level, playing in three games with the Bolts in 2014-15. While his AHL numbers won’t blow you away, the Lightning have every reason to give Koekkoek a chance to prove himself, as the likes of Nesterov, Andrej Sustr and even Matt Carle seemed to move in and out of Jon Cooper’s doghouse during the playoffs.

Speaking of Carle, he seemed impressed with the young blueliner’s skill when he debuted in April, as the Tampa Tribune reports.

“He skates really well, skated with the puck a lot and created a couple of chances on his own,” Carle said. “He was jumping up in plays. But I don’t think I played well enough to help him out. I kind of hung him out to dry on a couple of odd-man rushes. But he’s a talented kid who can skate well.”

Adding more mobility to a defense corps that includes Victor Hedman? That could leave Lightning fans leaping for joy.

Lightning, Sustr agree on two-year extension

Andrej Sustr

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed Andrej Sustr to a two-year contract extension.

Tampa Bay didn’t release the financial terms of the deal other than to confirm that it’s one-way, but the contract is worth $2.9 million, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. That’s up from his 2014-15 salary of roughly $874K.

The 24-year-old defenseman participated in his first full NHL campaign last season and registered 13 assists in 72 contests. He also blocked 84 shots and logged 17:42 minutes of ice time per game, including an average of 1:28 shorthanded minutes.

He went on to participate in all 26 of Tampa Bay’s 2015 playoff games during its run to the Stanley Cup Final. He had a goal and an assist and averaged 15:14 minutes per contest.

Tampa Bay now has seven defensemen inked to one-way contracts worth more than $1 million annually, although that includes Mattias Ohlund who hasn’t played since 2011. Ohlund just has one more campaign left on his contract before he’s off the books.

The Lightning didn’t give Mark Barberio a qualifying offer so the 25-year-old blueliner is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. However, they still need to re-sign RFA Luke Witkowski.

Lightning sign forwards Marchessault, Hart

Jonathan Marchessault

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have signed forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Brian Hart.

Marchessault, 24, has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract. He spent the bulk of the 2014-15 campaign in the AHL where he scored 24 goals and 67 points in 68 contests. However, he was also used twice during Tampa Bay’s playoff run and averaged 11:27 minutes per game during that stretch. Prior to that, he scored his first career NHL goal on April 11 against Boston.

Hart is turning pro now that he’s armed with a three-year, entry-level contract. The 21-year-old spent the last three campaigns with Harvard, scoring 18 goals and 50 points in 98 career NCAA games.

Tampa Bay originally selected him with the 53rd overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

The Lightning have no shortage of restricted free agents that still need to be addressed, including Vladislav Namestnikov, Mark Barberio, and Andrej Sustr.

In closest Cup final ever, mistakes loom especially large


TAMPA — The Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals Saturday. One came on a major blunder by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. The other came moments after a more minor error by Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr.

You know what they say about hockey. And like clockwork, Andrew Shaw went ahead and said it after the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory.

“Hockey is a game of mistakes,” he said. “Whoever makes the least usually has the better chance of winning.”

They’re calling this the closest Stanley Cup Final in NHL history. All five games have been decided by one goal. There has yet to be a two-goal lead at any time. Heck, the most one team has outshot the other is by six.

Frankly, it’s amazing there hasn’t been overtime.

“This is five one‑goal games,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “The margin of error for both teams is minimal.”

Even Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a participant in so many big games both professionally and on the international stage, has yet to develop an immunity to the anxiety.

“It’s always nerve-wracking,” he said. “I think that just shows you really want to win.”

And in a series where even the most benign-looking play can prove fatal — as it did for Tampa Bay early in the third when Sustr misplayed the puck along the boards in the Chicago end, ultimately leading to Antoine Vermette’s winner — it can be especially hard to keep from playing scared.

What’s the Blackhawks’ solution to that?

“I think everyone’s reassuring each other to go out and make plays,” said Toews. “Just go out there and make things happen. You’ve got five other guys out there with you. If you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.

“We’re gonna bail each other out when we get in tight spots. So whether you have a lot of experience or you’re a young guy with not so much experience, we’re all trying to make each other a little more comfortable out there.”

As for that first Chicago goal, Bishop chalked it up to a miscommunication with defenseman Victor Hedman.

“I saw them going for a change and I thought I would be able to catch them,” he said. “You know, Heddy was coming for it, but you can’t really hear anything in the building when it’s that loud. And you saw the result.”

Indeed we did. Bishop collided with Hedman, Patrick Sharp picked up the puck, open net, 1-0 Blackhawks.

“It’s unfortunate, obviously,” said Bishop. “It’s the first time it’s happened, and it’s a bad time to happen.”

Said Hedman: “I was looking up ice, didn’t see him and didn’t hear him. Stuff like that happens.”

And so this series heads back to Chicago, where the Cup may or may not be hoisted Monday after Game 6.

There will be mistakes.

There will be nerves.

“That’s what we live for,” said Shaw. “This is playoff hockey and we expect nothing different.”

A good kicking: Rangers best Lightning for 1-0 series lead

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game One

For a while there, it looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning might steal Game 1 from the New York Rangers. Instead, the Rangers squeaked by with a “greasy goal” to win 2-1.

Officials didn’t even need an extended review of the decisive tally, as Dominic Moore’s leg was clearly stationary as it knocked in the rebound. In an afternoon where many of the bounces went the way of the Lightning and Ben Bishop, the Rangers earned that last one and a 1-0 series lead.

(Actually, there was one noteworthy empty-net post hit by Derick Brassard, but it didn’t end up making a difference.)

New York has now been in 15 consecutive one-goal playoff games, beefing up a record they set in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals.

The Rangers absolutely dominated the first 40 minutes of play. You can take your pick regarding which of the first two periods were most lopsided (probably the first?), but as you can see from this graphic, the differences between the two teams were pronounced:

This marks the first time Bishop has lost to the Rangers, yet it doesn’t end his run of strong play against New York, as he kept Tampa Bay in this game. Henrik Lundqvist was even better (a phrase that seems to be coming up quite often in these playoffs, actually).

The Bolts have a lot of work to do, as they didn’t get a lot done before the third period. One glaring adjustment may come down to benching Andrej Sustr, as his play was critiqued in many circles.

Ultimately, the Presidents’ Trophy winners looked the part on Saturday, even if they only managed another one-goal win.

Click here for more on the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.