Lightning goes 1-for-2
By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 18, 2003
TAMPA - The Lightning held on to one of its hopeful scoring threats on the day its biggest from last season bid farewell.
Left wing Fredrik Modin, a restricted free agent eligible for arbitration, accepted the Lightning's qualifying offer of $1.87-million and signed a one-year contract. And left wing Vinny Prospal, the team's leading scorer last season, confirmed he has agreed to a five-year contract with Anaheim.
Prospal, who had 79 points last season, will be paid $16.5-million. Though thorough in his praise of a Lightning organization that gave him the chance to resurrect his career two years ago, Prospal said he had hoped negotiations with the team would have been handled "in a different kind of way."
"Anaheim was the one that came with a great offer and came after me really hard," he said. "They basically didn't fool around and made my choice easy.
"I think (Lightning general manager Jay Feaster) could have done a lot more to keep me in Tampa. I had other GMs calling me since I became a free agent, and I had not heard a thing from Jay, not until I was given an ultimatum to either take the deal or not take the deal on July 9."
Feaster made a final base offer of $13.75-million over five years and set a July 9 deadline for acceptance because, he said, Prospal's agent, Ritch Winter, reneged on an agreement to allow the Lightning to match outside offers.
Prospal credited his handling by coach John Tortorella for his resurgence.
"I will never forget the way that (Tortorella) gave me that kind of responsibility on the ice," he said. "Those two years, I will remember them greatly.
"I always said Tampa was my first priority to sign there, but it did not work out. There are no upset feelings. It's a business."
Prospal's departure increases the pressure on all of the Lightning forwards, but a return to form by Modin would be a major help. The 28-year-old Swede scored a career-high 32 goals and was named an All-Star in 2000-01 but has scored 31 since. He played through a wrist injury in 2001-02 but was healthy last season, scoring 17.
"I don't know what it was last year," Modin said. "My shots were up, but I did not score. It's something I think about a lot. There's always pressure on you heading into a season and during to perform, especially when you did score 30 before and have not done it since."
Feaster said it's not up to Modin alone to replace Prospal's 22 goals and 57 assists.
"We want to put pressure on everyone," he said. "People forget we have a $3-million forward sitting here in Cory Stillman, and in theory, he will be in our lineup."
Acquired from Toronto for Cory Cross and a seventh-round pick on Oct. 1, 1999, Modin owns the franchise record with 17 winning goals, is fourth in goals (85), seventh in points (175) and ninth in assists (90).
Feaster said he considered Modin one of the team's best players during the final third of last season because of his two-way play and physical presence on the boards but admitted the forward's offensive shortfall made a one-year deal more attractive for the Lightning.
Feaster said he plans to discuss new contracts today with Stillman and goaltender John Grahame. Both filed for salary arbitration, but Feaster said he expects to resolve both cases before then.
The Lightning has seven other restricted free agents: forwards Dmitry Afanasenkov, Martin Cibak, Ben Clymer, Sheldon Keefe, Brad Richards and Shane Willis and defenseman Dan Boyle.
League limits goalie pads
NEW YORK - The league will limit the height of goalie pads to 38 inches next season. Previously, the only restriction was the width not exceed 12 inches.
The league estimated about one-third of goalies wore pads larger than 38 inches last season.
"Our objective ... was to create a level playing field for all goaltenders without compromising their protection," Colin Campbell, the senior vice president and director of hockey operations, said in a statement.
Clubs will be fined $25,000 for violations.
CANUCKS: Defenseman Sami Salo and left wing Mats Lindgren re-signed. Salo set career highs last season with nine goals and 21 assists in 79 games. Lindgren had five goals and nine assists in 54 games.
FLAMES: Left wing Josh Green signed. In 45 games last season with the Rangers, Capitals and Oilers, he had a goal and four assists.
ISLANDERS: Forward Mariusz Czerkawski signed. Czerkawski, who scored 35 goals in 1999-2000, had five in 43 games with Montreal last season.
KINGS: Forwards Adam Deadmarsh and Ryan Flinn re-signed. Last season, Deadmarsh had 13 goals and four assists in 20 games before a concussion ended his season. Flinn had one goal in 19 games.
OILERS: The team will retire the number of Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr on Oct. 9. Fuhr, who retired in 2000, helped Edmonton win five Stanley Cups.
RANGERS: Goalie Jussi Markkanen re-signed. Markkanen, who was 7-8-3 with a 2.59 goals against average last season, was acquired with a fourth-round pick from Edmonton in exchange for the rights to defenseman Brian Leetch.
- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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