GM considers short-timers
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 15, 2003
ATLANTA -- For rent!
Jay Feaster apparently has been looking around the league for that sign.
The Lightning general manager said Friday that he would consider trading for a player who might leave the team during the summer as a free agent.
"If that scenario presents itself, we would be aggressive in pursuing it," Feaster said. "Hey, we're trying to make the playoffs."
It is no secret Feaster's priority is a top-four defenseman. The few known to be available likely will become unrestricted free agents.
Feaster, as always, declined to speak about specific players, but it is believed his strongest interest is in Aaron Miller of the Kings and Alexei Zhitnik of the Sabres.
Miller, 32, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder is a classic stay-at-home player. Zhitnik, 30, is 5-11, 215, and played for Russia at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Though the bulk of salaries has been paid -- Miller makes $1.7-million, Zhitnik $3.55-million -- any deal would be easier if the Kings or Sabres picked up part of the players' remaining contracts.
Other top-four defenseman available include San Jose's Bryan Marchment, Carolina's Glenn Wesley and Los Angeles' Dmitry Yushkevich.
BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT: The first 5,000 attending tonight's game against the Bruins at the St. Pete Times Forum receive a Dave Andreychuk bobblehead doll. Because traffic will be rerouted to accommodate the Gasparilla parade, the team is encouraging fans to approach the arena from Morgan Street or Selmon Expressway.
FEASTER VS. HARTLEY: Feaster helped close friend Bob Hartley get the job as Thrashers coach with an unsolicited phone call to Atlanta general manager Don Waddell. What did he get in return?
"It's a nervousness," Feaster said. "I've been in too many battles with him. I know how good he is."
The two became friends while Feaster was general manager and Hartley coached AHL Hershey, which they led to the 1997 Calder Cup championship.
"I owe him a lot," said Hartley, fired this season from Colorado.
When Hartley was hired in Atlanta, Feaster said his children lamented they could no longer "root for Uncle Bob's team."
"We're going to change that," Hartley said, laughing. "It's funny what a Thrashers jersey will do sometimes."
Feaster joked any Atlanta jersey will land "in a bottom drawer."
ODDS AND ENDS: Right wing Ben Clymer received 20 stitches around his right eye after he was hit by a deflected puck. ... Left wing Andre Roy began his three-game suspension. ... Right wing Jimmie Olvestad and left wing Chris Dingman were scratched.
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