(promoted from fanshots - jpf)
After just signing a 3 year entry level deal, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltending prospect Jaroslav Janus has quickly made his presence known by taking the spot of the Lightning's 2006 first round draft pick, goalie Riku Helenius.
Helenius was backing up prospect Dustin Tokarski while with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals, but with the improving play by Janus, a change was made. Janus, who was drafted 162 overall in last year's NHL Entry Draft, has played 13 games for his junior team in Erie, posting a 7-4-2 record with a 2.81 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. Lightning general manager and VP of hockey operations Brian Lawton said that because Janus has played so well, that a change was to be made to help Janus gain a more competitive challenge and help him improve to eventually make the next step.
So where does that leave Helenius?
Just to explain how important of a prospect Helenius is, let me tell you some facts. Helenius was drafted 15th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Helenius also led team Finland to a silver medal in the 2006 IIHF World Under 18 Championship, going 4-1-1 with a 1.83 goals against average. So, in short, he is a high reward prospect.
[Helenius playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL]
So, here are some situations of where he could land. The Lightning could simply trade him to another team for another prospect or draft picks, but I think that would be the option that makes the least sense. They could loan him, or even send him, to a team playing in the Finnish league. That would make sense becuause he is from Finland and he could get some much needed playing time. The final option would be to take him one step down from the AHL and loan him to an ECHL team. Either way, he would still stay Tampa Bay Lightning property and give him the opportunity to play. This has also been what Brian Lawton has said will most likely happen.
The good news is, The Bolt's future goaltending looks to be strong for years to come.