Report says Helenius wants 2-year deal to return to Tampa Bay Lightning

File Photo: JUNE 24, 2006: Riku Helenius of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses for a portrait backstage at the 2006 NHL Draft. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images for NHL)

Finnish goaltender Riku Helenius, the 2006 1st round draft selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning, remains unsigned by parties on either the North American or European continents at this time. You've heard reports of Riku wanting a one-way contract to return to North America and the Tampa Bay Lightning. A Finnish report upped the ante on contract demands by the Helenius' camp - saying he'd like a 2-year deal, as well as its one-way status.

Let's just recap here for the sake of rehashing (and glance at his HockeyDB.com statistics for more of the story): Helenius, 24, was drafted 15th overall by the Bolts in 2006. He played his first North American hockey season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL in 2007-08. He then bounced around between ECHL clubs and the Norfolk Admirals for most of 2008-09 season, though he also played a single NHL game (just a scant few minutes, facing 7 shots).

He was considered to have reached his developmental ceiling in 2009-10 by team officials, and then-GM Brian Lawton allowed Helenius to return to Europe, where Riku joined Sodertalje SK of the Swedish Elite League. All of this by the ripe old age of 21. He's played in Europe - in the SEL and Finnish SM-Liga - since, winning a championship with JYP of the SM-Liga this season.

If anything can be ascertained from looking at Helenius' North American career, it's that the Lightning failed in its development of the goaltender (which is a crime committed by Lawton). You can't expect a guy to develop when he's shuffled around and given inconsistent playing conditions.

Helenius remains Tampa Bay Lightning property, but he is in the driver's seat at this point when it comes to deciding where he will play in 2012-13 and beyond. He's considered a prospect by Assistant GM Julien BriseBois. But, if they want to get Helenius back to North America, they're going to have to treat him like a better prospect than previous regimes did - both financially as well as his roster assignment.

(Hat tip to Electric Blue Hockey Test and Bolt Prospects for mentioning the Finnish report on Twitter)

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