Feaster sits out trading frenzy

Defensemen get dealt, but none of the record 25 deals at the deadline involve the Lightning.

Published March 10, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Nothing. The Lightning did not do a thing.

No blockbusters. No minor tweaking. Not even a bag of pucks for a couple of sticks to be named later.

The NHL trade deadline came and went Thursday and despite having a couple of needs, the Lightning stood pat while every other team made at least one move in the 24 hours before the deadline.

A record 25 trades involving 40 players were made before yet another troubling loss for the Lightning, this time to Buffalo 8-5.

General manager Jay Feaster said he felt like a bridesmaid, that the Lightning came up second in a number of deals. Yet he said he was not disappointed.

"We weren't prepared to do something just for the sake of doing it," Feaster said. "We did not do harm to the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise. We like the group we have."

But the Lightning didn't help itself, particularly in the one area it needed help. For weeks, Feaster and coach John Tortorella bemoaned the lack of depth on defense. And it wasn't as if defensemen did not get moved.

Fifteen defensemen, most of the variety the Lightning sought, were traded. Most were traded for the one thing the Lightning was willing to give up: draft picks.

However, Feaster was hamstrung by the lack of picks because of recent draft-day trades. The Lighting did not have a second-, fourth- or fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft. So Feaster could do nothing more than sit as serviceable defensemen such as former Lightning Brad Lukowich, Luke Richardson, Ken Klee, Sean O'Donnell, Keith Carney, Sandis Ozolinsh and Ric Jackman were traded for prospects and/or draft picks.

"I personally believe the market for rental players was absurd in many instances," Feaster said. "And as tempting as it is and as tempted as you are as others are doing things - you know, (the feeling of) I got to get in on this - if the price is ridiculous and you are harming yourself down the road, there is no sense in doing it."

Feaster said he discussed trading several prospects he believes have bright futures in the NHL, but they weren't enough to swing a deal Tampa Bay's way. In fact, he admitted the Lightning offered to overpay for a couple of average players only to come up empty. And he refused to part with a No.1 pick like Nashville did to get veteran defenseman Brendan Witt from Washington.

Meantime, the rumor mill had the Lightning searching for a goalie and, again, plenty switched teams. Wednesday night, Dwayne Roloson went from Minnesota to Edmonton, and Colorado sent David Aebischer to Montreal for Jose Theodore. On Thursday, Buffalo sent Mika Noronen to Vancouver. In addition, Ottawa claimed Mike Morrison off waivers from Edmonton. Phoenix's Curtis Joseph, believed to be on the block, stayed put.

Perhaps troubling to the Lightning is the big dogs in the Eastern Conference made additions. Carolina added Pittsburgh scorer Mark Recchi. Ottawa added Chicago's Tyler Arnason, and Philadelphia added rugged defenseman Denis Gauthier in a deal with Phoenix.

The Lightning, however, did nothing. But Feaster said it should send a good message to the team, especially to players whose names had come up in rumors.

"I would hope those guys would say, "Okay, this organization believes in me and I haven't gone anywhere."' Feaster said. "I hope the guys would recognize we're fighting for our playoff lives right now. The playoffs started for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club already." The playoff drive has started - and will end - with the same players the Lightning had Thursday morning. That's fine with Feaster, who said he will sleep well knowing he made what he believed were the right decisions for his club even if it meant not making a trade.

"We're pleased we didn't do any harm," Feaster said. "We didn't do something foolish. The big thing is I like this hockey club."