Early on with Boltsmag, I made a decree that there was an up-and-coming, on-the-berge star with the Lightning. Dmitry Afanasenkov was showing me and other Lightning fans he was thisclose to breaking out -- if only he could finish! If only he got his scoring touch back that he had in juniors....
That was February 2004.
2005 has shown little of anything from Afanasenkov besides growing displeasure from fans and coaches alike about his lack-of scoring, lack of shooting and lack of worth on the roster. He's been shuffled between the lower two lines and given trial stints on the top, he's been benched and he's been called out in the media to elevate his game... Yet Afanasenkov's stats tell the tale of discontent:
31 games played, 1 goal, 2 assists, 40 Shots on goal....
"We're going to try to push him through because for us to have a decent team throughout the year," Tortorella said, "we're going to have to continue getting scoring from our bottom six (forwards) and Affy has to be one of those guys."
That was a Tortorella decree on December 5th... Yet his discontent with Afanasenkov, Martin Cibak and Chris Dingman has boiled to the point of the following:
Tortorella said the Lightning is so concerned about the bottom two lines that it is exploring trade possibilities.
That's from an article in today's St. Petersburg Timesk... You have to wonder right now if the Lightning wishes it had signed forwards Eric Perrin and Shane Willis instead of re-signing Cibak and Afanasenkov in the post-lockout offseason. Fans should remember that Perrin and Willis departed for Europe because of hwo difficult it would be to crack the Lightning roster and the likelihood they would be stuck in AHL Springfield.