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Southeast Notebook: Week of July 25-August 1

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

The turn of the calendar today means that the start to the upcoming 2012-13 season is inching closer. Here’s a look around at all the rumblings throughout the Southeast Division over the past seven days:

Tampa Bay Lightning…

All has been quiet throughout the past week on the hockey operations side of things, but recently-acquired defenseman Matt Carle did stop in this past Friday to meet the media at a session where he expressed both his optimism and excitement about the upcoming season.

“I had a lot of conversations with Steve Yzerman and I could hear the passion in his voice about what he was trying to do here,” Carle said. “There is a core group of guys, some good character people on this team, leadership and a good mix of veterans and young guys on this team, so it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

Carle returned to the Lightning as a free agent last month after spending each of the past four seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He initially was traded to Tampa Bay from San Jose as part of the Dan Boyle deal on July 4, 2008.

A veteran of 471 career NHL games, Carle has recorded 32 goals and 202 points in that span with a plus-55 rating.

Carolina Hurricanes…

The Hurricanes haven’t had any significant movement since last week’s signing of free agent forward Alex Semin.

The team and Semin, as updated in last week’s notebook, agreed to a one-year deal that reportedly pays the high-scoring winger $7 million next season. The financial outlay appears to be burdensome, but considering the Hurricane’s salary structure, it somewhat makes sense.

Although short-term as of now, the addition of Semin should make for a formidable trio of scorers that already included captain Eric Staal, and now his younger brother, Jordan, too. Not to mention, Carolina still has additional scoring help that is likely to come from Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty and Chad LaRose.

So, needless to say, the Hurricanes look to be a much-improved team just as much as the Southeast Division appears as if it could be up for grabs this season with no clear favorite, since each of its members have already made significant upgrades this summer.

Florida Panthers…

Last Wednesday, unveiled its organizational rankings that evaluate the developmental system of every NHL team and had the Panthers at the top of the list.

According to the report, authored by Grant Sonier, the Panthers have “elite prospects” including Jonathan Huberdeau, Quinton Howden, Nick Bjugstad and Alex Petrovic.

This year marks the second consecutive season that the Panthers come in at number one.

Here is the complete list, that is if you can get past ESPN’s pay wall.

Also last week, the Panthers agreed to terms with a pair of prospects, Eric Selleck and Casey Wellman.

Selleck, 25, played in 71 games for San Antonio of the AHL last season, registering five goals, nine points and a team leading 204 penalty minutes. For his professional career, the Spencerville, Ontario native has played in 138 AHL contests for Rochester and San Antonio, scoring 10 goals with 15 assists and 418 penalty minutes.

Wellman, 24, was acquired by Florida from the New York Rangers on July 20. He has played in 41 career NHL contests, all with the Minnesota Wild, registering four goals and 13 points. He appeared in 14 games with the Wild last year recording a pair of goals and seven points before being traded to New York on Feb. 3. The Brentwood, California native also split last season playing for both Houston (AHL) and Connecticut (AHL), scoring 23 goals with 24 assists in 57 games played.

Washington Capitals…

After a busy week last week in which the team named two individuals to assistant coaching positions and agreed to terms with a few prospects, things in the nation’s capital slowed down a bit.

On Friday, the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, signed 19-year-old goaltender Sergey Kostenko to an AHL contract.

Kostenko appeared in 40 games last season with Kuznetskie Medvedi (Metallurg) of the Russian junior league. He posted a goals-against average of 2.98 and a save percentage of .897. The 5-11, 187-pound netminder was named to the Russian national team that won the silver medal at last season’s U-20 World Junior Championships, but did not play in the tournament. He played in three games of the 2010 U-18 World Junior Championships, registering a goals-against average of 2.05 and save percentage of .902.

Winnipeg Jets…

Out of Jets camp, the team solidified its future with one of the franchise’s cornerstones, defenseman Tobias Enstrom.

Enstrom and the Jets agreed to terms on a five-year extension after the 28-year-old blueliner appeared in 62 games last season as an assistant captain with Winnipeg. An early season shoulder injury forced him to miss over two months, but he nonetheless managed to finish the year with six goals and 33 points and was second in scoring among the team’s defensemen.

The native of Nordingra, Sweden is the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise leader among defensemen in games played (380), points (204), and assists (172).

Enstrom was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the eighth round, 239th overall, at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

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