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Lightning slot may be up for grabs

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 22, 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE -- All of a sudden, the idea of the Lightning trading the No. 3 pick in this weekend's draft doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Tampa Bay general manager Rick Dudley said there is a 35 percent chance he will make a deal, a much higher percentage than previously thought. He said talks have heated up as organizations posture and prepare for this weekend's draft at National Car Rental Center in Sunrise.

"The frenzy has begun," Dudley said Thursday after the general managers meeting. "We've told people what we need and nobody has said yes. It's something that has to make us better now and better for the foreseeable future because what we might be giving up is a franchise-type player."

Most expect Tampa Bay to select Russian center Alexander Svitov with the third pick. But there are some pretty good names on the trading block, the biggest being Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr and Ottawa's Alexei Yashin.

Both probably are too expensive for Dudley's tastes, and he reiterated he is "99 percent" certain that center Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Pavel Kubina, two of his most sought-after players, "aren't going anywhere."

More reasonable deals might involve Ottawa forwards Daniel Alfredsson, 28, who had 72 points with 32 goals last season only to fall out of favor after a bad playoff performance; Magnus Arvedson, 29, who had 17 goals and was plus-23 in 51 games; and Andreas Dackell, 28, who had 13 goals and was plus-7 in 81 games.

All could be restricted free agents on July 1.

Dudley would not comment when asked if he has spoken to Pittsburgh or Ottawa, but said, "I've talked to a lot of people about a lot of different subjects."

Penguins GM Craig Patrick and Senators GM Marshall Johnson were just as cryptic.

"I've talked with every team about him," Patrick said of Jagr. "I've talked to every team about a number of issues."

Said Johnson: "I think right now, everybody is at that feeling-out stage to try to get some ground work done and see what's available."

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