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Postseason star re-signs
By TOM JONES
Published July 31, 2005
TAMPA - The Lightning continues to reassemble its Stanley Cup team, and Saturday brought back one of its most clutch scorers.
Left wing Ruslan Fedotenko signed a one-year deal worth $1.3-million.
"This is something we needed to do," general manager Jay Feaster said. "Feds was an important part of our run. Just look what he did in 2003-04."
What he did was turn in a memorable postseason performance after a solid regular season. Fedotenko scored 17 goals with 22 assists in 77 regular-season games but then scored 12 goals in the playoffs, including both goals in the 2-1 victory against Calgary in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
He comes back to the Lightning at a discount. Fedotenko, 26, made $1.5-million last season.
"I think it's a very fair deal for both sides," Feaster said. "He could've held out for more probably. I think he made it clear that he wanted to return."
It was the Lightning's decision to sign Fedotenko to a one-year deal partly because Fedotenko is coming off hip surgery in April. Feaster said Fedotenko should be 100 percent for training camp but needs to follow up his solid 2003-04 season with another good season. "Is he the guy who scored 12 postseason goals like he did in 2003-04?" Feaster said. "Or is he the guy who scored one postseason goal the year before that? Our challenge to him is: Now you have to do it consistently."
SEARCHING FOR GOALS: The Lightning's minor-league system appears well-stocked with defensemen and goalies, so that's why Feaster and his scouts spent most of Saturday sifting through their draft lists for scorers.
The team took defenseman Vladimir Mihalik with its first pick but then drafted six consecutive forwards.
The one Feaster was most excited about was third-round pick Radek Smolenak, who scored 32 goals with 28 assists in 67 games with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League. "What I love about him is his competitiveness," Feaster said. "He's an impressive young man who reminds me a lot of Vinny Prospal. When we interviewed him and asked him about his season, he immediately started talking about the team and not him."
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: The Lightning made three trades Saturday, but all were draft picks for draft picks.
Feaster said the Lightning considered trading its first-round pick and moving out of the round but never had a chance to move up in the first round.
"We didn't have a second-round pick and just couldn't put together a package to move up," Feaster said.
QUALIFYING OFFERS: The Lightning has until 5 p.m. today to make qualifying offers to its restricted free agents. Essentially, that means the Lightning will then have the right to match any offers those players receive from other teams.
The Lightning likely will make qualifying offers to all of its restricted free agents, most notably Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Dan Boyle.
Meantime, the NHL announced that free agency won't begin at midnight but instead at noon Monday.