Lightning sign 2005 first-round pick Mihalik

TAMPA, FLORIDA (TICKER) —The Tampa Bay Lightning have an imposing force for their blue line on the horizon.

The Lightning on Friday signed defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, their first-round pick in 2005, to a three-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Selected 30th overall, the 6-7, 222-pound Mihalik has spent the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, recording seven goals and 26 points in 53 games with Prince George this past campaign while notching three tallies and nine assists in 62 contests with Red Deer in 2005-06.

“Vladimir is a big, mobile defenseman who has really taken a solid step forward in his development this year in major junior,” Tampa Bay general manager Jay Feaster said. “He has started to grow into his big frame and, as a result, has shown increased agility, mobility and quickness in his skating, not just from the time we drafted him, but even from the start of this season.

“We are very pleased with his development to date and, to the extent he truly commits himself to our summer workout program this summer, he will be a fun player for our fans to watch in training camp. We look forward to having him begin his professional career within the Lightning organization.”

A native of Slovakia, Mihalik represented his country in each of the last three World Junior Championships, scoring his first career tournament goal in six games this year. The 20-year-old registered three assists in 12 contests over the previous two events.

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Updated Friday, Apr 6, 2007