By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times,
published May 31, 2001
DENVER -- Matthew Barnaby said he liked what he saw last season in the two months he spent with the Lightning.
He likes the nucleus of the club and the way management and the coaching staff treats its players. He likes it so much, he signed a three-year deal Wednesday worth about $3.9-million.
The 28-year-old right wing will make about $1.265-million next season and about $1.32-million in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
"Obviously," Barnaby said, "I'm a lot happier this got done at the earliest possible time so I can get my mind to work on things other than the contract."
With next season being his 10th as a pro, and because he would have made below the league average of $1.4-milion, Barnaby, who made $1.1-million last season, could have opted for unrestricted free agency when it was over. But when the Lightning offered the three-year deal, he was happy to accept.
"We think he's going to have a significant year," Lightning general manager Rick Dudley said. "We think he's exactly what we need."
Barnaby played 29 games for Tampa Bay after being acquired from the Penguins for Wayne Primeau. He scored four goals with four assists and provided a physical presence the Lightning had lacked.
Dudley said 20 goals isn't too much to expect next season.
"But probably more important than anything is his leadership," Dudley said. "I defy any young player to watch Matthew Barnaby in a game and think there is another way to play. He has a passion for hockey, and in terms of leadership he provided exactly what we needed."
"I know I can score in this league," said Barnaby, who scored 19 goals for the Sabres in 1996-97. "I'm not going to stay away from the rough stuff because that's my game, but I have to pick the right time and pick the right spots."