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Calm day is likely for trade deadline
The team will listen to others but doesn't plan anything drastic.
By TOM JONES
Published March 9, 2006
BUFFALO - Lightning general manager Jay Feaster went to lunch Wednesday afternoon and when he returned 90 minutes later, he found no messages waiting for him.
That's a surprise considering the NHL trade deadline is at 3 this afternoon.
But that's the way this trade season is going. With a salary cap in place for the first time in league history and few teams eliminated from playoff contention, the wheeling and dealing normally seen in the days before the deadline has been replaced by waiting and seeing.
Today, the Lightning might make a deal. It might not. Feaster might take 20 calls. He might take two. It's all up in the air, but it's likely the Lightning won't look much different at 3:01 this afternoon than it did Wednesday. "We still have some things we're trying to accomplish, but I couldn't tell you they were close to happening," Feaster said. "I think it's still a 50-50. There are a couple of things that could come to fruition. There have been multiple conversations with (several) teams."
The Lightning has one major need: depth on defense. It has another opening for a physical forward. And, if the right deal comes along, the Lightning might go after a goaltender.
However, one of the better available goalies went off the market Wednesday when the Minnesota Wild sent former all-star Dwayne Roloson to the Edmonton Oilers for a first-round pick and conditional third-round pick.
While it's not believed the Lightning was seriously interested in Roloson, the high price the Oilers paid could affect the Lightning's chances to acquire a goalie or another player.
"Because of what Minnesota got for Roloson, that does impact not just the goaltender situation, but (all unrestricted free agents)," Feaster said. "Clearly there are more buyers than sellers. I don't think there are as many sellers as people believe there are."
That could change today. Teams asking for a high price earlier this week might be willing to give a discount today as the deadline approaches. Feaster has said he would rather add without subtracting from his current roster.
"Teams that started off saying, "Well, I need a player back,' now say, "Well, I'll do it for a draft pick.' " Feaster said. "You almost get the sense that between 12 and 3 (today) it's going to be like a cork coming out of a bottle."
But upon hearing that, Bill Barber, the Lightning's director of player personnel, told Feaster, "Yeah, either that or nothing. You're not going to see the number of deals that you have in the past."
With No. 1 goalie John Grahame struggling since the end of the Olympic break and Sean Burke barely playing, it's believed the Lightning has nosed around for a goalie. But it seems unlikely it will deal for a one today. Phoenix's Curtis Joseph was thought to be headed to Edmonton, but with the Oilers acquiring Roloson, Joseph might be the best of the leftover lot of goalies.
The Lightning's main need is a defenseman. Feaster and coach John Tortorella said they are pleased with the team's six defensemen, but are concerned what would happen if there was an injury. No one in the minors has extensive NHL experience. While Feaster has not discussed names, Washington veteran Brendan Witt keeps cropping up in rumors.
A physical player to play on the third or fourth line also is on Feaster's wish list.
Don't expect a Lightning blockbuster though it has received some inquiries to make such a deal.
"In the course of having conversations, that's one of the things that always happens," Feaster said. "You get the, "Well, we're not doing anything." Or "We're looking to stand pat unless you want to trade (Vinny) Lecavalier or unless you want to trade (Brad) Richards.' You get that all the time."
The Lightning will not make such a big move. In fact, it's possible the Lightning won't make any moves at all.