St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning

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Buy or sell? GM will wait

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

SUNRISE -- Lightning general manager Jay Feaster is very much a buyer in the NHL's trade market. His priority: a top-four defenseman.

When, or if, he turns into a seller depends on how Tampa Bay performs during the next few weeks. Does it stay in the playoff hunt and demand Feaster add a piece, or does it fall back and force him to reassess the roster?

"We have a lot of confidence in this team, and we feel very good about this team," Feaster said. "But for some reason, if we can't find that intensity level and can't compete at the level that keeps us in the playoff race and we fall from the pack, we'll have to assess where we are and where we're going."

Decoded, that means a roster shakeup could be in order. One already has started with the Hurricanes.

It is tricky to speculate (and because of injuries, Feaster isn't looking to move a defenseman), but it is a safe bet that among forwards, the untouchables are Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Dave Andreychuk.

The specter of change is minimal if the team stays in the playoff race. Center Tim Taylor said that makes sense.

"You either go one way or another," he said. "When you're on the bottom, you're looking to improve for next year."

For now, with the Lightning eighth in the East and still in the playoffs, Feaster is concentrating on addition. The trade deadline is March 11.

"It's not from a lack of trying," he said. "Trying to bring in a top-four defenseman is a tough thing, and what you find is there are an awful lot of other teams out there looking for the same thing."

Feaster said he does not expect a lot of action for, perhaps, another three weeks, after which the top teams should get some separation from the bottom. And the buyers and sellers become more evident.

A YOUNG (FUTURE) STAR: The Hockey News thinks a great deal of Lightning center Alexander Svitov. The publication, in its upcoming Future Watch issue, ranks him the league's No. 11 prospect. The rookie has three goals and three assists in 36 games.

Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who is playing in Finland, is No. 1. A panel of NHL scouts and executives did the voting.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDRE: Left wing Andre Roy turned 28 on Saturday. He celebrated Friday at dinner with his father, Gillis, a construction consultant who has lived in South Florida for two years.

Asked what present he received, Roy said, "Nothing yet. I'm still waiting."

SCRATCHED: Left wing Chris Dingman (healthy), right wing Jimmie Olvestad (groin) and defenseman Stan Neckar (groin) did not play.

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