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Lightning exposes list for expansion

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


What players are the Lightning prepared to lose?

That was the question facing general manager Rick Dudley as he worked on the list of players he will protect from the NHL expansion draft.

"We're not going to give up our kids, so obviously somebody has to be left unprotected," Dudley said. "We have a lot of young assets we're not going to give up on."

The list, sent to the NHL on Monday, will be released today. The June23 draft in Calgary will stock the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Each contributing team will lose two players, though no club can lose more than one goaltender or one defenseman.

Some familiar Lightning names will be made available, such as defenseman Jassen Cullimore, goaltender Zac Bierk and forwards Robert Petrovicky, Reid Simpson, Steve Martins and Bruce Gardiner.

"There were really a couple of tough decisions," Dudley said. "Mostly it bordered on a couple of guys and what our needs were at that position."

Players with fewer than three years of professional experience are exempt from the draft, meaning players such as center Vincent Lecavalier and defensemen Cory Sarich and Ben Clymer need not be protected.

The Lightning elected to protect just one goaltender, Dan Cloutier, meaning it also can protect five defensemen and nine forwards.

They likely will be defensemen Petr Svoboda, Marek Posmyk, Andrei Zyuzin, Sergey Gusev and Pavel Kubina, and forwards Fredrik Modin, Dwayne Hay, Wayne Primeau, Stan Drulia, Mike Johnson, Todd Warriner, Ryan Johnson, Brian Holzinger and Jaroslav Svejkovsky.

Drulia is the most interesting case. At 32, he does not fit the mold of the young, big, fleet-footed athlete Dudley covets. But the general manager also values character, and Drulia showed that in abundance last season on the NHL's youngest team.

"We value him a lot," Dudley said. "We value what he brings to the dressing room. He is very influential."

He also is a bargain at $200,000.

Money may play a role in who is picked. Cullimore, 27, who was one of Tampa Bay's steadiest defensemen the second half of the season, may be too pricey at $775,000.

JUNIORS NOMINATED: Lightning junior prospects Brad Richards and Sheldon Keefe did well in nominations for the Canadian Hockey League's post-season awards.

Richards, a left wing for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is up for top scorer, top plus-minus and player of the year.

Keefe, a right wing for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League, is up for top scorer. The awards will be announced Friday.

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