LIGHTNING SIGN 6-FOOT-8 ENFORCER MITCH FRITZ
The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have signed 6-foot-8, 258-pound left wing Mitch Fritz to a one-year contract, Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster announced. The team also has signed defensemen Timo Helbling (one year), Brandon Elliott (three years) and Brady Greco (two years), Feaster announced. In accordance with club policy, terms of the contracts were not released.
Fritz, 24, skated in 45 games with Springfield in 2004-05, recording three goals, one assist and 179 penalty minutes. The native of Osoyoos, Bristish Columbia has 91 total games of AHL experience with Springfield, Worcester, Milwaukee, Saint John, Hamilton and Lowell and has totaled four goals, three assists and 313 penalty minutes. Fritz, a left-handed shot, also has appeared in 184 East Coast Hockey League games with Tallahassee and Columbus, recording 13 goals, 23 assists and 656 penalty minutes.
"Mitch Fritz took on all comers last year at the AHL level, and Springfield head coach Dirk Graham noted that, in his opinion, Mitch didn't lose a fight," Feaster said. "We like his hockey sense, he thinks the game well, and if he can continue to improve his skating he's going to have an opportunity to play here. He certainly understands his role."
Helbling, 24, made a return to the Swiss league in 2004-05 recording two goals, nine assists and 118 penalty minutes in 44 games with Kloten. He previously played for Davos in the Swiss league from 1998-00. The 6-2, 183-pound native of Basel, Switzerland has played in 150 AHL games with Milwaukee and Utah, tallying five goals, 16 points and 189 penalty minutes. He made his North American debut in the 2000-01 season with Windsor of the OHL.
The defenseman was acquired by the Lightning from Nashville on February 25, 2004 in exchange for an eighth round selection at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Predators drafted Helbling in the 6th round, 162nd overall, in 1999.
Greco, a 6-3, 198-pound native of Bryan, Ohio, appeared in 26 games with Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2004-05, tallying four goals, two assists and 36 penalty minutes. In two seasons with the Tigers he played in 54 games, registering 11 goals and 18 points with 58 penalty minutes. Prior to joining Colorado College the defenseman spent the 2002-03 season with Chicago of the USHL and the 2001-02 campaign with Michigan Tech of the WCHL. He was selected by the Lightning in the eighth round, 256th overall, at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
A 6-4 native of Orangeville, Ontario, Elliott began the 2004-05 season with Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League before joining Springfield of the AHL and eventually Victoria of the ECHL. The 225-pound defenseman played in 22 games with Ice Dogs, scoring one goal and adding four assists with 74 penalty minutes. While with the Falcons, Elliott appeared in two games and registered seven penalty minutes. He finished the season with the Salmon Kings and saw time in 13 games, recording two assists and 41 penalty minutes. Greco, 21, was selected by the Lightning in the fifth round, 158th overall, at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.