The Tampa Bay Lightning added more depth to the system on Sunday by signing forward Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract. The 31 year old hasn't played in North America since the 2010-2011 season:
TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Tambellini, 31, has skated in 242 career NHL games over six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks, recording 27 goals and 63 points. The Calgary, Alberta native played his last NHL season with the Canucks during the 2010-11 campaign, posting career highs for goals (eight), points (17), plus/minus (+10) and shots on goal (114).
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward skated in 30 games with Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss-A League in 2014-15, registering five goals and 13 points. Tambellini also played in 20 games with the Vaxjo Lakers in the Swedish Hockey League, recording six goals and nine points.
Tambellini has appeared in 176 career American Hockey League games over five seasons with the Manchester Monarchs, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Manitoba Moose. He tallied 101 goals and 201 points over his five seasons in the AHL.
Tambellini is a former 1st round draft pick from 2002, selected by the Los Angeles Kings. He's bounced around in his career - he did time in the BCHL, played for the University of Michigan, logged major minutes in the AHL, and played a collection of NHL games before he crossed the pond. He's been playing in the Swiss-A League and the Swedish Hockey League since then.
Most opinions are that this is a depth signing for the Syracuse Crunch. When he was drafted, Hockey's Future had this to say about him:
Tambellini is known most for his skating ability and scoring touch. Considered one of the best, if not the best, skaters in the entire draft. He exhibits nice balance and speed to beat the opposition to the puck or cover the defensive zone. Tambellini is developing into a tremendous two-way forward as he continues to develop his defensive game while playing for the Wolverines. A "competitor" with a good shot, quick wrists and can finish around the net.
Tambellini pretty much owned the AHL in the middle 2000's. In 2005-06, he played in 56 games for the Manchester Monarchs, potting 25 goals and totaling 56 points. He played in 50 games for Bridgeport in 2006-07, netting 59 points. His best season in the AHL was 2007-08, again with Bridgeport. Tambellini scored a total of 76 points in 57 games (38 goals and 38 assists).
If Tambellini can get back to those high-flying days, this signing will be huge for Syracuse. One of the things the Crunch has lacked the past two seasons is a scoring vet who can lead the younger guys and help them develop. The Lightning tried to bring on Jerome Samson in this role last season, but he fizzled out by mid-year and bolted for Europe. Unexpectedly, Crunch captain Mike Angelidis had a banner year in Samson's place, scoring 38 points in 64 games while seeing call ups to the Lightning at various points. However, Angelidis is generally not known as a high-scoring forward (in fact, that season was arguably the best of his career), and to expect him to carry the team again like that--he ended the season third on the Crunch in scoring--is quite unreasonable. It will be celebrated if it happens, but to automatically expect it just isn't bankable.
Time will tell what the 31-year-old Tambellini will bring to the table in Syracuse, but his signing could be a big key to a successful campaign:
Jeff Tambellini is a nice depth player. Good speed, quick release, PPG player at the AHL level. Was drafted by Al Murray back in 2003.— Martin Kirschbaum (@kisin91) July 5, 2015