LIGHTNING SIGN RW JIM CAMPBELL, RW NORM MILLEY & C JASON JASPERS; RE-SIGN G BRIAN EKLUND
/ Tampa Bay Lightning
The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have signed NHL veteran right wing Jim Campbell, center Jason Jaspers and right wing Norm Milley, and have re-signed goaltender Brian Eklund, Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster announced today. In accordance with club policy, financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Campbell, 32, has skated in 284 career NHL games with Anaheim, St. Louis, Montreal, Chicago and Florida, recording 61 goals, 136 points and 266 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Worcester, Massachusetts finished the 2004-05 season on loan to the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield, recording two goals and seven points in 13 games.
"Jim Campbell is a veteran player who brings significant NHL experience to our organization," Feaster said. "We had the opportunity to get to know Jim last season in Springfield, and he very quickly adapted to our system and worked to make our prospects better. Even after he broke his jaw, he continued to be a positive presence with the team. We believe that with the rule changes and the crack down on obstruction, he will flourish within our system. Most importantly, he has demonstrated a tremendous desire to be part of our organization and has done so since August 1st. We are thrilled he has chosen to sign with us."
Selected 28th overall by Montreal in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell made his NHL debut with Anaheim in 1995-96 after skating for Team USA at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Campbell became an NHL regular with St. Louis in 1996-97, recording career highs in goals (23), points (43) and penalty minutes (68). In 433 career AHL games with Fredericton, Baltimore, Worcester, Quebec, Norfolk, San Antonio, Chicago, Bridgeport and Springfield, Campbell has tallied 157 goals and 320 points.
Eklund, 25, appeared in 43 games for the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League in 2004-05, compiling a record of 14-23-0 and a goals-against average of 3.01. The 6-5, 205-pound Braintree, Massachusetts native has completed three pro seasons in the AHL and ECHL, posting a record of 63-46-7, and also served as the Lightning's third goalie during the team's 2004 Stanley Cup run. He was selected in the seventh round (226th overall) by the Lightning at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
"Brian Eklund continues to grow and develop as a player, and has consistently answered every challenge we've thrown at him since he turned pro," Feaster said. "We told him going into the season last year that he needed to win the No. 1 job from Jamie Storr. He did that in spades, and quickly established himself as our 'go-to guy.' Brian's challenge this year is to be one of the very best goalies in the AHL, lead his team in Springfield, and demonstrate to us that he is truly a legitimate No. 3 goalie in our organization knocking on the door of playing in the NHL. We are confident he will again rise to the challenge."
Jaspers, a 5-foot-11, 207-pound center, was acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes for Jarrod Skalde on July 28, 2005. The 24-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ontario skated in 48 games with Springfield of the AHL last season, recording 12 goals, 17 assists and 45 penalty minutes. Drafted in the third round in 1999 by Phoenix, Jaspers has appeared in nine career NHL games with the Coyotes, recording an assist and six penalty minutes. He played three seasons with Sudbury of the OHL where he tallied 116 goals in 199 games.
"Jason Jaspers is a dynamic player who very quickly embraced the Lightning system and style of play last year in Springfield," Feaster said. "He skates very well and he is able to get in on the forecheck and create opportunities for himself and his teammates. During John Tortorella's visits to Springfield last season he was very impressed with Jason, and he felt strongly that Jason would flourish in our system. He is a prospect for us and we are excited to have him coming to camp this season and battling for a spot."
Milley, a 25-year old Toronto native, joins the Lightning after spending the past five seasons in the Buffalo Sabres organization. The 6-foot, 195-pound right wing has appeared in 15 games with the Sabres, recording three assists. Drafted 47th overall by Buffalo in 1998, Milley has played 367 games with Rochester of the AHL, recording 86 goals and 203 points. Milley played four seasons with Sudbury of the OHL, where he was a teammate of Jaspers' for two seasons. In 259 games with the Wolves he scored 167 goals and added 201 assists.
"Norm Milley is another player we consider to be an excellent prospect," Feaster said. "We believe that, as sometimes happens in our business, he needs a change of scenery and the chance to start anew with a different organization. He had an outstanding junior career and he's been a solid producer in the AHL. This is Norm's chance to commit to the Lightning system, come to camp in the best shape he's ever been in, and compete for an NHL roster spot. We know he desperately wants to be an NHL player and this organization is all about opportunity. We think he's a great addition for us."