tampabay.com

Cibak will not return next season

By TOM JONES
Published June 25, 2006


VANCOUVER - The Lightning is parting ways with veteran center Martin Cibak, who was not given a qualifying offer for next season.

Cibak, a ninth-round pick in 1998, played parts of three seasons for the Lightning, including last season when he had two goals and six assists in 65 games. The Lightning also did not give qualifying offers, which give the team the right to match any free-agent offer they receive, to minor-leaguers Jean-Francois Soucy, Dennis Packard and Gerard Dicaire.

The Lightning did extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents Cory Sarich, Evgeny Artyukhin, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko and Dmitry Afansenkov.

NO KUBY?:

It's looking less likely that defenseman Pavel Kubina, who will become an unrestricted free agent, will return to the Lightning. He is believed to be seeking at least $4-million a season, more than the Lightning is willing to pay.

THE TOP FIVE:

The first round offered no surprises, particularly among the top five. Defenseman Erik Johnson, who played for the U.S. under-18 team, went to St. Louis with the first pick. Ontario center Jordan Staal, brother of Carolina's Eric, went second to Pittsburgh. The Blackhawks took University of North Dakota forward Jonathan Toews with the third pick. Nicklas Backstrom, a Swedish center, went fourth to Washington. And University of Minnesota defenseman Phil Kessel, considered by some to be the top prospect in the draft, went fifth to Boston.

In all, a record 10 U.S-born players were selected in the first round.

LET'S MAKE A DEAL:

All was mostly quiet on the trade front other than the usual swapping of draft picks.

Colorado sent forward Alex Tanguay to Calgary for defenseman Jordan Leopold and two draft picks. Minnesota acquired center Pavol Demitra from Los Angeles for prospect Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th pick in Saturday's draft. Boston sent goalie Andrew Raycroft to Toronto for goalie Tuuka Rask, the Leafs first-round pick in 2005.

LOUIE, LOUIE:

The shocker of draft weekend was the Panthers sending goalie Roberto Luongo to Vancouver for forward Todd Bertuzzi and goalie Alex Auld.

"I like to think we became a better hockey team (Friday) without doing a ... thing because Roberto is out of the Southeast Division," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said.

"Not having to face him eight times is a great thing."

Luongo has a year left on his deal, and there's a feeling he is not interested in staying in Vancouver. That has led to speculation that, perhaps, he is interested in playing back in Florida with the Lightning. He recently built a home in Coral Springs.

Vancouver likely will do everything it can to sign him to a long-term deal. If the Lightning even entertains the thought of acquiring him, it likely would have to give up a package that would include center Vinny Lecavalier.

Feaster would not address the situation and, for now, it's all only speculation.