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Southeast Division Notebook: Week of June 6-13

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

With much on the agenda in the upcoming weeks including the NHL Draft, NHL Awards Show and Free Agency, we’re making our rounds across the Southeast Division for all the latest headlines from this past week as this summer’s offseason continues to heat up with action.

Tampa Bay Lightning...

As is old news by now, the Bolts’ top affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Norfolk Admirals, took home the AHL’s Calder Cup this past weekend, completing a four-game sweep of the Toronto Marlies.

The championship was Norfolk’s first-ever as a Lightning affiliate, and culminated in remarkable fashion.

After completing the regular season with a professional hockey record 28-game winning streak, Norfolk went 15-3 in the postseason to finish with 70 victories in 94 games overall, including 43 in their final 46 games of the year.

Norfolk also never trailed over its final two playoff series and finished the postseason with 10 consecutive wins, outscoring their opponents 34-7 during the streak. Under second-year head coach Jon Cooper, the Admirals eliminated the Manchester Monarchs (3-1), Connecticut Whale (4-2) and St. John’s IceCaps (4-0) before defeating Toronto in the Finals. The Admirals’ 2012 playoff roster also featured seven players who appeared in the NHL with the NHL’s parent club in Tampa Bay this season.

Carolina Hurricanes...

In news that also affected the Lightning, the division-rival Hurricanes released their preseason schedule on Tuesday, which features two matchups against the Bolts to be played on Sept. 27 and Sept. 30 in Orlando and Raleigh, respectively.

The remaining clubs’ preseason schedules are expected to be announced in the next several days.

Late last week, Carolina also announced it had signed goaltender John Muse to a one-year contract.

Muse, 23, completed his first full professional season in 2011-12, splitting the year between Charlotte of the American Hockey League (AHL) and Florida of the ECHL. The native of East Falmouth, Massachusetts was 10-3-2 with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage with the Checkers in the AHL, and 16-6-3 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .920 save percentage for the Everblades in the ECHL. He was named the MVP of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup playoffs, going 11-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .939 save percentage, and leading Florida to its first Kelly Cup championship.

Prior to beginning his professional career, Muse played four seasons at Boston College, going 89-39-16 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 144 career games. He led the Eagles to three Beanpot championships (2008, 2010, 2011), three Hockey East Tournament titles (2008, 2010, 2011) and two NCAA national championships (2008, 2010).

Florida Panthers...

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment General Partner Cliff Viner announced last week that the Florida Panthers and Executive Vice President & General Manager Dale Tallon have agreed to a multi-year contract extension. As per club policy, length or financial terms of the contract will not be disclosed.

Since joining the Panthers in May 2010, Tallon has been responsible for reshaping the club’s hockey operations department, as well as the team’s player personnel. In just two years, he assembled a team which finished the 2011-12 season with a 38-26-18 mark and 94 points – its most since totaling 98 points in 1999-2000 (43-27-6-6). The Panthers earned their first Division title in franchise history and the team’s first playoff berth since 2000. For his efforts, Tallon was selected as a finalist for the NHL’s Executive of the Year that will be awarded in Las Vegas on June 20.

Washington Capitals...

Much like the Hurricanes, the Capitals also released their exhibition schedule earlier this week, which features seven games against four opponents and includes three games at the Verizon Center.

Each of the team’s preseason games will be played against Western Conference opponents, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators, with the exception of just one against the Boston Bruins.

Winnipeg Jets...

Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night that Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec - a restricted free agent come July 1 - may be in contract talks with a team in the Kontinental Hockey League, hinting at a potential “one-year, big-money offer.”

According to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press, rumors first began in April when speculation out of the Czech Republic suggested that the Slovakian-based HC Lev Poprad team, which was relocating to Prague, would play in the KHL and might be pursuing Pavelec.

As one of the Czech Republic's biggest stars, Pavelec -who grew up in Kladno, near Prague - would be a huge draw for the KHL and a team based in his homeland.

The report went on to state that the Jets offered "no comment" when reached by the Free Press, but that sources had said general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been in contract talks with Allan Walsh, Pavelec’s agent, and is trying to sign the 24-year-old to a new deal.

Pavelec posted a 29-28-9 record with a 2.91 goals against average and .906 save percentage for the Jets this past season.

*Some information used in this report such as statistics and prospect news was taken from the official web sites of the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.
**Click here to read last week's Southeast Division Notebook

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