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NHL briefs

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 24, 2001


Lightning GM's plan changes for Holmqvist

SUNRISE -- The draft pick was supposed to be part of a master plan. Instead, it was part of the Lightning's draft strategy.

General manager Rick Dudley acquired the Islanders' second-round pick in 2002 Friday, along with defenseman Mathieu Biron for Adrian Aucoin and Alexander Kharitonov.

Dudley said the pick would be used this summer as bait to trade for either a veteran defenseman, or a gritty or scoring forward. But the Lightning sent the pick to the Capitals on Saturday for their second-round pick (61st overall) and got defenseman Andreas Holmqvist.

"We couldn't resist," Dudley said. "We felt it was too important."

Head scout Jake Goertzen said the Lightning felt good getting a tangible return on the pick (with a player Goertzen coveted) rather than rolling the dice.

"We knew what we had," Goertzen said. "We were very happy to get him."

Holmqvist had 10 goals, 16 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 52 games last season for Hammarby in the Sweden-1 League.

"I'm an offensive defenseman," he said. "I love bringing the puck up and passing it to the forwards."

TODAY'S PICKS: Tampa Bay has five selections today; in the fifth round (222nd overall), seventh (259th), eighth (261st) and ninth (281st).

CANUCKS PICK FEDOROV: Former Tampa Bay prospect Fedor Fedorov was selected in the third round (66th overall). The brother of Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov was taken in the sixth round (182nd) by the Lightning in 1999, but returned to the draft when not signed in two years.

BIG SHOES: With Alexei Yashin's trade to the Islanders for the No. 2 overall pick, Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt, Jason Spezza will be expected to fill the void.

"I'll go there and ease my way in and try and do as much as I can," Spezza said. "I haven't had time to think about it, but it's pretty awesome."

Ottawa general manager Marshall Johnston cautioned, "His potential is very good, but we do have to understand he is 18 years old. We are giving up a 40-goal scorer for someone that hasn't played a game in the league."

MAD MIKE: Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said he feels he can sign Yashin, who sat out the 1999-2000 season in a contract dispute and is expected to ask for $7-million.

"We're hoping that if we can't come to a deal, he can exercise his (arbitration) rights to avoid any long-term squabble," Milbury said. "That's one thing I'm sure he doesn't want to get into again."

BURE BROTHERS: One of the day's biggest cheers came when the Panthers traded Rob Niedermayer to the Flames for Valeri Bure and former Lightning player Jason Wiemer. The deal unites Bure with his brother, Pavel, the league's leading goal scorer.

"I think with his big brother buying into the system by the end of the season, I'm comfortable that Valeri will buy into what we're doing here," Panthers general manager Bill Torrey said.

The Bures had 86 goals last season -- 59 by Pavel, 27 by Valeri.

NO TAKERS ON LINDROS: Philadelphia came to the draft optimistic that it could trade Eric Lindros, the former captain who is a restricted free agent. By 5 p.m., it looked unlikely that anything would happen by the time the draft concludes today.

"Teams are talking to us, but it hasn't changed since last year, really," said general manager Bob Clarke, sounding frustrated.

"I thought something might get done. I was hoping."

The really grim news: Detroit GM Ken Holland, who had the inside track, said the Red Wings were probably out of the picture as far as Lindros is concerned.

San Jose and Vancouver talked to the Flyers, but Clarke said, "I don't think there's anything there."

The Flyers covered themselves Saturday by trading for highly touted, 32-year-old Jiri Dopita, from the Czech Republic.

WHAT TO DO WITH HASEK?: Barring a trade, Buffalo is seriously considering spending $9-million to retain All-Star goalie Dominik Hasek's rights for one more season. What is uncertain is whether the Sabres will keep Hasek or trade him to get some value in return.

The Sabres have until Saturday to determine whether to pick up a one-year, $9-million option or risk losing Hasek to unrestricted free agency.

ODDS AND ENDS: Ilja Kovalchuk, taken No. 1 by the Thrashers, was the first Russian to be selected first overall. ... Thirteen of 30 first-round picks were European, including four Russians and three Czechs.

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