Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Jason Ward re-signs; Artyukhin rejects
Posted May 9, 2007 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated May 9, 2007 at 09:13 PM
When Jason Ward brought his aggressive forechecking style to Tampa Bay, his game seemed a perfect match for the Lightning’s up-tempo approach.
On Wednesday, both parties to a step to assure the pairing stayed together for at least two more years after Ward signed a two-year deal worth $1.35 million, a salary cap of $675,000. Ward was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“When we had our exit meetings Jason expressed that he was comfortable here and that this was a perfect fit for him, like he had found a home,’’ Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. “So [assistant general manager] Claude [Loiselle] started working with [Ward’s agent] Pat Morris right away and when you have to parties motivated to work together, things can happen fast.’’
Ward was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 27 in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in next month’s draft and scored four goals and eight points in 17 games with Tampa Bay, often playing more than 20 minutes a game playing on the second line.
While Ward has been known more as a third-line checker throughout his career – which also includes stops in Montreal and New York Rangers – he showed the ability to move up to a scoring line when called upon.
“We didn’t pull any punches with him when we spoke at the end of the season, we see Jason as a third-line player, but he is versatile enough that he can move up if need be,’’ Feaster said.
With Ward under contract, Tampa Bay has 10 players signed for next season. One player who likely won’t be joining the team is Evgeny Artyukhin, who turned down that team’s one-year, one-way deal for $475,000 and is believed to have signed a contract with a team in his native Russia. While Feaster didn’t say the door was closed on Artyukin, “we are not going to offer him another deal.’’