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More changes for the Lightning, Vinny signing for nine years

Posted Jun 25, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Jun 25, 2008 at 09:05 PM

So do you think all the rumors of Vinny wanting to go to Montreal will now stop? My guess is, um, no they won’t stop because Habs fans just can’t wrap their hands around the idea that Lecavalier is so happy in Tampa that he doesn’t have a lot of interest in trying to resurrect the Canadiens. I mean, seriously, he can only fail if he ever suited up for the Habs, either he wins a Stanley Cup (which is what would be expected of him) or he doesn’t, in which cased he fails. But Lecavalier is a member of the Tampa Bay community, and he’s now guaranteed to be a member of the Lightning for virtually the rest of his career. As reported here yesterday, Lecavalier has all but agreed to terms of a nine-year contract that TSN reports is worth $77 million (a great signing at $8.5 million per season considering the stupid money being thrown around the league right now). Nothing can be announced until July 1 at the earliest, but I would look for the formal announcement to be made more toward the middle of the month. Lecavalier has a charity function he has later in July, so I would expect it will all be made official then.

  —-On another note, looks like that meeting between former player agent Brian Lawton and Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie in Ottawa last week wasn’t just a luncheon. It appears that Lawton, the first overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1983, has been hired by the Lightning as the vice president of hockey operations. In essence, this position replaces Bill Barber, who resigned on Tuesday as director of player personnel.

Lawton had been an agent after his playing days were over, but recently resigned from that position in hopes of landing a job somewhere as a general manager in the league. He is expected to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the team as part of a management group that will include current general manager Jay Feaster.

A formal announcement should happen later today on both Lawton’s hiring and Barber’s resignation.

  —-I spoke to Barber earlier today as he was getting ready to spend time with his family at their cottage in Ontario and he said he’s just worn out with all the travel demands in his position. It’s something he had been mulling over for sometime but didn’t decided on until he spoke with general manager Jay Feaster at the draft in Ottawa over the weekend to inform him that it was time to move on. He spoke a lot about how much he has enjoyed his time with the Lightning and will forever remember the Stanley Cup run. He praised the fans of Tampa Bay for their support and hopes you guys show that same support for the new owners. Barber also made sure that everybody understood that this decision had nothing to do with the new owners coming in.

  —-And finally, at least for now, with the way things are happening at a frenzied pace these days, who knows. But the team has formally announced the contract of Marc Denis has been bought out. No shock. He had $3 million left on his deal, which means it cost them $2 million to buy him out and will be hit with a $1 million salary cap hit for the next two seasons.

  —-Here’s an update on the team’s list of restricted free agents and who has been qualified:

Qualified: Ryan Craig, Justin Fletcher and Jay Rosehill

Those who have not been qualified, thereby are now unrestricted free agents: Mike Egener, Jonathan Boutin, Zbynek Hrdel, Marek Kvapil, Ryan Munce and Mario Scalzo.

I’m a bit surprised by the decision not to qualify Egener and Boutin. Certainly Egener has been a disappointment after being the team’s first pick (second round) in 2003. He had some injury issues and just couldn’t seem to get it together with his decision making. They tried him at forward and he made some strides there last year. Boutin, meanwhile, just didn’t seem to get the respect for his improvements since being selected in the third round in 2003. He played well at times in Norfolk last season.

And it’s become pretty clear that the team will look to pursue a goaltender in free agency with Boutin and Munce not being qualified and Marc Denis bought out. Tampa Bay has just three goaltenders under contract now in Mike Smith, Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius.

There are some intriguing names out there that might be an enticement to bring in and compete with Smith and Ramo for two spots - Ty Conklin, Alex Auld, Olie Kolzig, Patrick Lalime. Johan Holmqvist is available (hey, we know he’s capable of being a good backup/part-time starter, right) and a certain Ray Emery is out there, but do you want that baggage?

  —-Guys, in the hoopla of events the past couple of days, I missed getting this information out there in regards to a season ticket holder function tomorrow at the Forum that you must RSVP for if you want to attend. Here’s the info from the team:

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s newest members of the organization, head coach Barry Melrose and first overall draft pick Steven Stamkos, will meet season ticket holders on Thursday, June 26 from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Melrose and Stamkos will meet season ticket holders in Icons restaurant at the St. Pete Times Forum. In order to RSVP all season ticket holders must call Lightning Premium Services at 813.301.6795.

Reader Comments

Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I’ll probably get slammed for this, but although at one point I was even calling for Feaster’s firing (it could still happen.) but how much of the Lightning’s problems was he at fault? Part of me says he did the best he could with the cap that Palace gave him. It’s just a thought to ponder upon.

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Por (Andrew Coy) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Justin,

I completely agree with your take on Feaster.  You can only do so much with what the powers-that-be give you.  I am looking forward to opening night with this new regime.  Contrary to what people think about Melrose, I feel he will be a good fit to this team.

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Por (tracy morrow) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

More news - It’s confirmed. grin  Congrats to the Bolts for locking him in.  He’s 1-in-a-million!!!!

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=241633&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_nhl

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Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I do believe that in 9 years there will be a number 4 jersey in the rafters at the forum.

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Por (mary) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

This is great news, Vinny is an incredible talent, we’re so lucky that we are going to have him for the rest of his career!!!!! YOu’re the man Vinny, we love you.

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Por (Ruthe Robertson) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Great news! Be interesting to see what kind of car he gets now with that kind of money.  Can I have your used Bentley, Vinny?

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Por (Greg) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

now they just need to give Vinny the letter C back.  Do the Lightning have any pending restricted free agents that you could see getting an offer sheet from another team?

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Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Greg, Keep a look out after July 1st, NHL.com will probably put out a list of all UFA’s for every team.

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Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Better yet…

RFA’s:
Jonathan Boutin 22 G $500,000  
Ryan Craig 25 C $850,000  
Alexandre Picard 21 D $500,000 Re-signed to a multi-year deal
Karl Stewart 24 L $475,000  

UFA’s:
Vaclav Prospal
Chris Gratton
Andreas Karlsson
Doug Janik
Mathieu Darche
Andre Roy
Junior Lessard
Kyle Wanvig

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Por (Jon G) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Getting Vinny at 8.5 million, that is a steal. It goes to show you how much he wants to stay in Tampa. If he wanted to go elsewhere I am sure he could for more money. Always a class act.

Prospal signed on for 14 million over 4 years a good player if he keeps doing what he did last year this is a great deal.

I cant wait for the season to begin.

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Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

It’s good to see that some players still play for the crest on the front of their sweater and not the name on the back. The same can’t be said for Artyukin and Khabibulin among others.

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Por (Mike Joyce) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Justin, if you call giving Denis the farm for a nobody, I guess Uncle Fester is OK.  Let’s face it, he fell in love with a player who played for him in the minors.  Denis was probably a very good minor leaguer, just like most of the players on the potential free agent list.  I think that most will be in the minors next year instead of eating away at the cap limit on the big team.

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Por (Justin) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Mike, Denis had better stats than Burke or Grahame and looked promising. Do you remember anyone else that we could have brought in Davidson’s cap willing?

I’m not covering for Feaster but he did the best he could with what he had and to me only screwed up on the Denis/Modin trade, the Richards trade doesn’t bother me. But what can you do?

Sign a goaltender who performed well with a worse team who by right should have done better here, or do keep that cap space to resign a few people and stick with the tandem act of Burke/Grahame and still perform horribly, which in turn made it impossible to sign someone almost gauranteed to be able to effectively play on Richards line rendering Richards almost useless. It was a lose/lose situation

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Por (Mike Joyce) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Saying that Denis had better stats than Burke and Grahame isn’t saying much at all.  Neither of those guys were any good either.

Besides, who was the GM who brought us Burke and Grahame?

Feaster didn’t render Richards almost useless.  Richards did that on his own.  When Halpern came, that line came alive like it never did with Richards.  If Uncle Fester had a good trade in him it was trading Richards.

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Por (shale) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Getting a vet back-up I believe would be a wise decision.  This way we can allow Ramo to continue to develop for one more year as a full time starter in the minors.  Looking at Kolzig and Lalime would be interesting options.  As well as Raycroft in my opinion.  I believe that he was cut by Toronto with the house cleaning up there.  Being able to sign any of these guys to a one year deal to resurrect thier careers, except maybe Kolzig.  As I believe Smith has the tools to be a number one.  Starting the year new, without all of the distractions of the Richards trade, instablity of ownership as well as Torts frustration of the ending to the season will be good for Smith.

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Por (shale) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

On that note, with Koules and Barrie stating that they will be aggressive in the free agent market.  Would it not be logical that they may go after Rolston (Walz’ teammate in Minnesota) and/or Vrabata (Tocchett being there as well).  I believe that they will try to sign one of these two.  Me, I would go after Rolston, his speed still has to be top 10 in the league and is always been extremly good on the penalty kill.  Help takes pressure off of working the big three always on the kill.  The other guy we need, needs to have grit and Malone fits that.  He has the size that we need to protect Stamkos and worked well with Crosby, but, I would not break the bank for this guy as one year may not translate into the next.

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Por (Randall Buschmann) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I like every move that has been made so far, from giving Torts the ax, replaced by Melrose, re-acquiring Prospal’s rights, to Vinny re-signing, Lawton coming in and Denis on waivers..oh, and they actually drafted Stamkos, they didn’t deal the pick! I think Ryan Malone on Stamkos wing with Brian Rolston would be a great line…those are the two guys I most covet this summer.

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Por (shale) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

See Rolston made $2.5 million last year, Malone made $1.5 million last year {I think he will wanna get paid a big contract based on last year and his being only 27}.  I see Cory Stillman is also a free agent too,  he did do a tremendous job here and when he left here as well.  Maybe able to get a reasonable price tag for him.  So it will be interesting.  I can see Koules and Barrie making a splash on day one as looking at the potential un-restricted free agent class, it looks as though most of them are ready to hang up the skates.2008 FREE AGENT LISThttp://www.sportscity.com/NHL/NHL-Free-Agents-by-Position-2008/

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Por (Greg) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Seriously though Feaster never drafted a decent forward in all his time in charge and he gave Richards 1-2 million more a year than anyone else would have given him.  Oh, and I say the Fedentenko for Pitkanen trade was horrible. 

Personally I’d like to see Ryder or Satan in Tampa - put them on a line with Vinny and either one of them would score 30 goals in his sleep.

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Por (mitchell margo) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

hey greg, there was a time when fedotenko scored 12 goals for us in the playoffs and scored the game winner in game 7.  Anytime a trade helps your team win the Stanley Cup then you win that trade 100 percent of the time.  And also what has pitkanen done that is so great in the past few years.

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Por (Brishen) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I vote for signing Rolston, Vrbata and Conklin.

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Por (mitchell margo) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

i’ll be the first one to tell you that Jay Feaster has not done a very good job at GM (that is being very nice) but the Lightning did win a Stanley Cup.  I am very glad that Feaster is now going to be the pizza delivery guy to Koules and the rest of the guys.  Personally i think the Lightning should go after Ralston, stillman, jason williams (to fill in for Halpern), and maybe cullimore to try to aid Smaby, both are very similar players. wouldn’t mind signing emery to a 2-way contract.

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Por (Greg) on June 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

oh, I agree fedotenko had a good playoffs in 04 - but I still say if I laced them up and you put me on a line with Vinny he’d still be able to bank a bunch of goals in off my fat #####.  They basically benched Stillman that year in the playoffs and you can’t tell me that he couldn’t have floated up and down the ice as well as fedotenko’s did.  The Sydor trade that year was good though - I’ll give him credit for that.

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Por (Bolt Nut) on June 26, 2008 (Suggest removal)

“I am very glad that Feaster is now going to be the pizza delivery guy to Koules and the rest of the guys.”

But then what would Koules and the rest of the guys eat?

SIGN GOALZIG NOW - Don’t take unnecessary chances! Put the pressure on AHLers Smith/Ramo to step up and compete for the #1. If they do, fantastic. If they can’t or don’t, you got Olaf Kolzig, are you kidding me? I’d simultaneously laugh and cry with joy on the floor for 18 continuous hours if they signed him. Hossa would get 36.

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Por (Kevin G) on June 26, 2008 (Suggest removal)

The Fedotenko trade at the time was good. He was great in the playoffs. The Modin/Norrena for Denis trade was awful. The Sydor trade, when that happened, I knew that the Bolts were serious about making a Cup run. Beautiful trade.
I would much rather see Malone over Stillman b/c of age. But, Stillman could teach Stamkos some things about winning championships, and set him up for a ton of goals.
It’ll be exciting come July 1st. These owners look like they know what they’re doing.

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