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Lightning, feeling need for speed, signs 3 free agents

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000


On the final day restricted free agents could accept or reject qualifying offers, the Lightning announced Monday that centers Steve Martins and Brian Holzinger signed one-year contracts.

Martin St. Louis, an unrestricted free agent who played right wing for Calgary last season, signed a two-year contract.

"One of the things we've been attempting to do is build a fast team," general manager Rick Dudley said, "and these are three of the faster players in the game."

Six of Tampa Bay's restricted free agents remain unsigned, most notably defenseman Pavel Kubina, who scored eight goals and had 18 assists in 69 games last season.

"Nothing has happened yet," said Juri Crha, Kubina's agent. "Nothing at all. ... We've got time now."

Defenseman Kaspars Astashenko, center Ryan Johnson, defenseman Bryan Muir, center Wayne Primeau and defenseman Andrei Zyuzin are the other restricted free agents who did not accept Tampa Bay's qualifying offer. Those six can either sign with the Lightning, work out a deal with another team in return for draft picks or hold out.

"We're talking with all of them," assistant general manager Jay Feaster said. "We're closer on some than others. Of the six, we probably can get a couple of those done this week. Some of the others may take longer."

Holzinger, 27, came to the Lightning in a March trade that sent Chris Gratton to Buffalo. He had three goals and three assists in 14 games with the Lightning and signed for $1.1-million.

Martins, 28, played in a career-high 59 games with the Lightning and Ottawa last season, scoring six goals with seven assists. Fourth overall pick in the 1994 supplemental draft, he played two games for Ottawa before the Lightning claimed him off waivers in October. He signed for $450,000.

St. Louis played in 56 games, scoring three goals as a rookie with Calgary last season. He will make $262,500 with the Lightning.

TICKET PLAN: The Lightning is offering a mini-plan package for games against 10 of the league's top teams. The packages go on sale at 8:30 a.m. today for from $79-$349.

Games are the Islanders (Oct. 6), Panthers (Nov. 24), Red Wings (Dec. 2), Avalanche (Dec. 8), Devils (Dec. 23), Flyers (Dec. 28), Maple Leafs (Dec. 31), Flyers (Jan. 12), Rangers (Feb. 17) and Penguins (March 17). To order, call the Lightning ticket office at (813) 301-6600.

BLACKHAWKS: The team signed defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, 24, and free-agent goaltender Rob Tallas, 27, who posted a 4-13-4 record and 3.17 goals-against average in 27 games last season with the Bruins.

CAPITALS: Free-agent center Andrei Nikolishin re-signed, a one-year deal for $1.127-million.

KINGS: The team agreed to one-year contracts with defenseman Aki Berg and goalie Marcel Cousineau. Forward Brad Chartrand accepted a multiyear deal.

MIGHT DUCKS: Anaheim signed goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to a one-year contract. Giguere, 23, played in seven games for the Flames as a backup to Fred Brathwaite and Grant Fuhr.

PENGUINS: Forward Matthew Barnaby accepted a $1.1-million one-year qualifying offer instead of opting for arbitration.

STARS: Dallas re-signed right wing Jamie Langenbrunner to a one-year contract. Langenbrunner, 25, had 18 goals and 21 assists in 65 games last season.

THRASHERS: Atlanta reached agreements with goalie Scott Fankhouser, defenseman Brett Clark and forward Brian Wesenberg. Fankhouser, 25, led the Thrashers with a 3.20 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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