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Cup contributor returns to Lightning

By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published June 15, 2006

TAMPA - The Lightning brought back a familiar name Wednesday. Forward Eric Perrin, a contributing member of the team's Stanley Cup run in 2004, signed a one-year deal.

The move gives the Lightning an extra forward, something that could be crucial if it trades some offensive punch in the coming weeks for a No.1 goalie.

"Any time you add depth, it gives you maneuverability," general manager Jay Feaster said. "We didn't have the depth, some of the component pieces last season when we needed someone to step in. Bringing Eric back gives us some of the depth we need to fill a spot on our NHL roster or (in the minors) or the option to do some other things, such as trades."

Perrin, a college teammate at Vermont of Lightning star Marty St. Louis, signed with the Lightning in 2003 and made his NHL debut at the end of the 2003-04 season, appearing in four regular-season games. He went on to play 12 games in the playoffs.

The Lightning wanted to bring him back last season on a two-way deal, a contract that pays one salary at the NHL level and a lower salary in the minors. Perrin balked, in part, because of a rule in the collective bargaining agreement.

Any player making more than $75,000 in the minors would have to clear waivers to be called up to the NHL. Because of that, the Lightning's minor-league offer was only $75,000, and Perrin, 30, opted to play in Switzerland, where he had 13 goals and 25 assists in 44 games.

This season, however, players can make up to $90,000 in the minors without having to pass through waivers.

It's believed the Lightning signed Perrin to a deal that will pay him the NHL minimum of $450,000 if he plays in the NHL and $90,000 if he plays in the minors.

Meantime, Feaster is in talks with former Lightning forward Shane Willis, who played in Europe last season for the same reason as Perrin. Willis will be an unrestricted free agent July1. Feaster said the Lightning is offering a two-way contract, however, while Willis believes he can secure a one-way contract in the NHL.

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