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Team seeking perfect fit in a defenseman

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2003


TAMPA -- With 16 days remaining until the March 11 trade deadline, the Lightning is looking for a top-four defenseman who fits its locker room profile and can be had -- in a best-case scenario -- for draft choices. General manager Jay Feaster has said he would consider acquiring a player even if he might lose him to free agency.

At the top of the list appear to be the Kings' Aaron Miller, the Sabres' Alexei Zhitnik and the Hurricanes' Glen Wesley.

Here are some high-profile defenseman thought to be available and what is believed to be Tampa Bay's interest:

Bob Boughner, Flames, 31: Physical, stay-at-home player with plenty of playoff experience. The Flames want a first-line forward, which would be difficult to accommodate. Salary: $2.15-million (one more season). Interest: moderate.

Miller, Kings, 31: The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder plays the stay-at-home game the Lightning craves. Salary: $1.7-million (unrestricted). Interest: high.

Teppo Numminen, Coyotes, 34: Phoenix probably would have to pick up some salary, and general manager Mike Barnett appears reluctant to deal the team's longest-tenured player, who averages 24 minutes of ice time. Salary: $4.75-million (one more season). Interest: moderate.

Mathieu Schneider, Kings, 33: A force on the power play, but the Lightning is looking for defense first. Salary: $3.5-million (one more season). Interest: low.

Bryan Marchment, Sharks, 33. Has the size (6-1, 200) and the temperament (103 penalty minutes) to be attractive. A malcontent with Tampa Bay in 1997-98. Salary: $3-million (unrestricted). Interest: low.

Wesley, Hurricanes, 34: Another stay-at-home player. Averages 21:33. Is not rugged, but Stanley Cup experience is a major plus. Salary: $2.5-million (unrestricted). Interest: high.

Dmitry Yushkevich, Kings, 31: Nothing on offense, spotty on defense and questions about locker room fit. Salary: $2.75-million (unrestricted). Interest: none.

Zhitnik, Sabres, 30: He averages 25:42 and is minus-3 on a team that has been outscored 132-162. The Sabres likely would have to pick up part of his contract. Salary: $3.75-million (one more season). Interest: high.

NO GOOD ANSWER: Lightning left wing Dave Andreychuk argued with referee Dean Warren after defenseman Cory Sarich was called for interference with 8:43 left in the third period. The Sabres scored on the power play to take a 3-1 lead.

Andreychuk said right wing Ben Clymer was interfered with in the same way earlier in the period and nothing was called. The answer Andreychuk said he was given confirms referees in the same game interpret rules differently.

"Each guy sees the game differently," Andreychuk said he was told. "We're not robots."

How about consistent?

"We'd like consistency," Andreychuk said. "But honesty is the best policy."

ODDS AND ENDS: Center Tim Taylor and left wing Chris Dingman were benched in the third period. ... Lightning left wing Ruslan Fedotenko is day to day after fracturing the tip of the middle finger of his right hand. A puck hit him while he sat on the bench. ... Defenseman Pavel Kubina (head/neck), left wing Andre Roy and right wing Jimmie Olvestad were scratched.

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