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Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos Stepping Up Play Of Late

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: May 20, 2013 at 10:06 PM
PHILADELPHIA -

Lost in the losing ways the Lightning are displaying lately is the recent play of top overall pick C Steven Stamkos.

While Tampa Bay is mired in a four-game winless skid heading into Tuesday's game at Philadelphia, Stamkos has quietly shown why he was the first pick in the 2008 draft.

In a loss to Minnesota on Friday, Stamkos broke the 20-minute mark in ice time for the first time, notched an assist and was manning one of the point positions on the power play. In Saturday's loss at Colorado, Stamkos played more than 21 minutes and had his second multi-point game of the season with a goal and assist and once again played some at the point on the power play.

"The past couple of games, Stamkos on the point has looked like a 10-year veteran back there," interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "I'm really impressed with that kid right now, he's really taken a hold of things the past couple of games.

"And he's been really getting in on the puck as the first forechecker, and he's probably been our best guy jumping on loose pucks"

MINOR TRADE: The Lightning traded D Andrew Hutchinson on Sunday to the Dallas Stars in exchange for former Los Angeles first-round pick Lauri Tukonen.

Hutchinson, who signed a two-year contract worth $1.1 million during the summer, was called up from Norfolk on Friday and appeared in the past two games and finished as a minus-5 in losses at Minnesota and Colorado.

Tukonen was the 11th overall pick in 2004 and appeared in five games with the Kings over two seasons while playing for Los Angeles' minor-league team for three seasons. The 22-year-old right wing was traded to Dallas in July and attended the Stars' camp before being assigned to Ilves Tampere of the Finnish Elite League in September.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Tukonen likely will remain in Finland the rest of the year but could come over for camp next season.

AUGUSTA ON ICE? Reports out of Georgia over the weekend suggest the Lightning's affiliate in the East Coast Hockey League, the Augusta Lynx, are on the verge of folding in midseason. Team owners held a news conference pleading for investors to step forward with as much as $200,000 to help keep the team in operation this year. It is unclear whether the Lynx, who played in Charlotte on Sunday, will be in business for the team's next home game on Dec. 16.

On Sunday, G Riku Helenius was recalled from Augusta to Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate, but Lawton said that move was done to allow goaltending coach Cap Raeder to spend a week in Norfolk with both Helenius and Karri Ramo.

Erik Erlendsson

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