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Southeast Division Notebook: Week of May 30 - June 6

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

With the Los Angeles Kings closing in on a Stanley Cup championship, NHL action is almost all but over for the summer, but around the Southeast Divison, there is plenty of action off of the ice and stories to keep an eye on.

Tampa Bay Lightning...

The Bolts’ top affiliate in Norfolk of the American Hockey League is currently two wins shy of capturing the AHL’s Calder Cup, with the team returning to action on Thursday for Game 3 and Saturday for Game 4.

The team announced on Tuesday that the remainder of the series will be televised in its entirety on CBS Sports Network, giving Lightning fans across the Bay Area and beyond the luxury of witnessing the future of the team attempting to bring home one of the sport’s greatest prizes.

The 2012 Calder Cup Finals, pitting the Admirals against the Toronto Marlies, are the culmination of the AHL’s 76th season. The current series in which the Admirals are competing in also marks the club’s longest-ever postseason run as a Lightning affiliate.

Carolina Hurricanes...

Even in the middle of the offseason, the Hurricanes continue to evaluate personnel both on and off the ice, leading to a number of immediate decisions being made for the overall goal of improving the club.

On Tuesday, Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford announced a number of changes and restructuring initiatives in the hockey operations department.

Ron Francis, who is entering his seventh season in the team’s front office, was promoted to Vice President of Hockey Operations, while Jason Karmanos, in his 15th year with the Hurricanes, was named to the position of Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager. Long-time NHLer Rod Brind’Amour, who joined the team’s front office in 2010, will now serve as a full-time assistant coach in 2012-13. Assistant Coach Dave Lewis and Director of Defensemen Development Glen Wesley also each received contract extensions.

Rutherford also announced several new hires in addition to the existing staff adjustments. Former Hurricane and former 2004 Lightning Stanley Cup champion Cory Stillman was appointed to the position of Director of Forwards Development, a title previously held by Brind’Amour. Stillman, 38, retired from the NHL in September 2011 after 16 NHL seasons, and spent the 2011-12 season working as player development assistant for the Florida Panthers.

Greg Stefan, 51, will also rejoin the Hurricanes’ coaching staff as a goaltender coach after serving as a pro scout for the club last season. Dave Hunter, who has worked as a part-time amateur scout for Carolina for the past four years, also will join the team as a pro scout starting in 2012-13.

In on-ice news, Rutherford announced the team failed to reach an agreement with goaltender Frederik Andersen, chosen by Carolina with the 187th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. As a result, Andersen is now eligible to enter this month’s upcoming draft at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center.

Earlier in the week, the Hurricanes did, however, come to individual agreements with defensive prospect Justin Krueger and forward prospect Brody Sutter.

Krueger, 25, completed his first season of professional hockey in North America in 2011-12, skating in 58 games for the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). The Düsseldorf, Germany, native led all Checkers skaters in plus/minus (+16), while totaling two goals and 11 assists (13 points). Prior to joining Charlotte last season, Krueger played one season of professional hockey with SC Bern of the Swiss National League in 2010-11, earning 11 points (1g, 10a) and a plus-6 rating in 50 games. Carolina’s seventh round selection, 213th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Krueger (6’3”, 215 lbs.) also spent four seasons at Cornell University from 2006-10, notching 32 points (7g, 25a) in 135 games for the Big Red.

Sutter, 20, led the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2011-12 with 30 goals and 60 points, and ranked second on the team with 30 assists, while playing in 65 regular-season games. The native of Viking, Alberta finished his junior hockey career with 57 goals and 68 assists (125 points) in 231 regular-season games with Lethbridge and Saskatoon. Following the conclusion of Lethbridge’s season, Sutter (6’5”, 203 lbs.) joined the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL), and scored one goal and had a plus-1 rating in four games. Carolina drafted Sutter in the seventh round, 193rd overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Florida Panthers...

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, which controls the Florida Panthers, announced Friday that the Florida Panthers were ranked No. 1 in Hockey’s Future 2011-12 Postseason Team Rankings based on the number of top prospects in the organization and depth of talent. The Panthers held the top spot among all NHL clubs for the second consecutive time, and have been listed among the Top Four NHL organizations in the last four bi-annual rankings.

Washington Capitals...

The Capitals, on Monday, acquired a seventh-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for goaltender Tomas Vokoun, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced.

Vokoun, 35, compiled a record of 25-17-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 48 games during the 2011-12 season with the Capitals. In 680 career NHL games, Vokoun owns a 287-284-35-43 record with a 2.55 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Earlier in the week, McPhee also re-signed goaltender Dany Sabourin to a one-year contract extension. Sabourin, 31, went 18-12-5 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 37 games with the Hershey Bears of the AHL last season and posted a 3-2 record with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage in the Calder Cup playoffs. Sabourin was recalled to Washington for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and backed up Braden Holtby for the first four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins. He spent all of 2010-11 with the Bears, recording a 14-9-0 record with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 23 games.

The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Sabourin has appeared in 57 career NHL games with the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Vancouver Canucks, compiling a record of 18-25-0-4 with a 2.88 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. The Val-d’Or, Quebec, native was originally Calgary’s fourth-round choice, 108th overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

Winnipeg Jets...

All quiet on the Western Front.

*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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