LIGHTNING SIGN LEFT WING JUSTIN KELLER
The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed left wing Justin Keller to a standard three-year entry level contract, it was announced by Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster.
Keller, 20, led the Western Hockey League with 51 goals in 72 games for Kelowna, which finished with a 46-22-1-3 record in 2005-06. In 12 WHL playoff games, Keller recorded nine points. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Summerland, British Columbia is best remembered for scoring the goal that won the 2004 Memorial Cup for Kelowna. The Rockets beat the Gatineau Olympiques in the final, 2-1, and it was Keller's third-period goal that broke a 1-1 tie and gave Kelowna the championship.
"Justin Keller is a pure goal scorer," Feaster said. "He has a skill that cannot be taught. He gets himself into open areas and when he gets the puck, he buries it, and that is a skill this organization is lacking in terms of our depth.
"While we believe Justin must continue to work on his skating and find a way to get quicker in order to play in Tampa, we really like his scoring touch, his overall hockey sense and his defensive awareness, and we are very pleased to get him started on his professional career."
Keller, selected by the Lightning in the eighth round, 245th overall, at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, played three seasons with Kelowna, recording 107 goals and 187 points in 216 games. Named the Canadian Hockey League's Player of the Week on December 22, 2005, Keller was recently named the Western Hockey League's Canada Post Cup winner as the player who received the most "Three Stars" votes during the 2005-06 season. Keller was also named Kelowna's Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player last season.