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Afanasenkov getting noticed

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000


BRANDON -- And your No. 1 star of practice was ... Dmitry Afanasenkov.

The right wing Sunday had the kind of day every prospect dreams about during the Lightning's second day of training camp at the Ice Sports Forum. Afanasenkov had two goals and an assist in a 3-0 intrasquad victory and the winner in a 1-0 victory in Game 2.

"He was excellent," general manager Rick Dudley said. "He's a pure scorer."

"I just try to do my best," Afanasenkov, 20, said.

The Russian was one of Tampa Bay's best players at last week's rookie camp in Hull, Quebec, and has joined Brad Richards and Sheldon Keefe as juniors who could make the team.

Afanasenkov showed superb vision and pinpoint passing on a stunning give-and-go with Richards that resulted in a goal.

It wasn't all gravy. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder said he needs to develop his physical game. Asked if he could make the team, Afanasenkov said, "I have a great shot. Every time I go on the ice, I work hard."

FAST WORK: The most dynamic line so far is center Martin St. Louis, left wing Alexander Kharitonov and right wing Ryan Johnson.

It's not the biggest line. Johnson is the heavyweight at 6 feet 1, 200 pounds. St. Louis is 5-9, 185, and Kharitonov is 5-8, 170. Speed makes up the difference.

"A defense will go insane trying to track them down," Dudley said.

"We're just three guys who can skate," St. Louis said. "And we think alike. I can make eye contact with Ryan, and I know where he's going to go."

The pairing may make it more likely that Kharitonov, a third-round draft pick this year out of Russia, will make the team. The real test will come in preseason games. Dudley said he will give the line every chance.

TRADE TALK: Left wing Todd Warriner and defenseman Cory Sarich for Capitals left wing Peter Bondra. That little nugget was swirling around the Lightning and Washington camps.

"It is absolutely out of the question," Dudley said. "We didn't trade for either of those players to trade them. We think they are core members of our team."

The trade, with that price tag, doesn't make sense for Tampa Bay. Bondra slipped from 52 goals to 21 in two seasons, there are questions about his motivation, and he will make a whopping $3.9-million.

Oh, and he is 32 years old.

"We are not," Dudley said, "going to get older."

ROUGHING IT: Keefe continued to get under a few skins. The left wing gave right wing Michael Johnson a whack across the legs with his stick during a game. Johnson said he didn't think anything of it, but left wing Nils Ekman took a run at Keefe anyway, one of a few runs with which the 20-year-old had to deal.

"He was up to his old antics," coach Steve Ludzik said. "He's like a Tasmanian devil out there."

Ryan Johnson was upset by a check from forward Mike Kiesman that crunched his right knee. "I didn't even have the puck," said Johnson, who limped slightly after the shift. "I had torn that ACL before, so it was a little bit scarey, but it's okay."

Johnson got his revenge, decking Kiesman with a check near a corner.

INJURIES: Defenseman Sergey Gusev, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, skated before practice and said he should be ready in about two weeks. Right wing Dan Kesa strained his left hamstring, and right wing Stan Drulia sat with a charley horse. Both should practice today.

LUNCHEON: The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce will host a luncheon at noon Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Dudley, Ludzik, Sarich, Vinny Lecavalier, Fredrik Modin, Wayne Primeau, Kyle Freadrich, Jassen Cullimore, Brian Holzinger, Kevin Weekes, Andrei Zyuzin and Steve Martins are scheduled to attend. The cost is $29.50 per person or $295 a table and includes lunch and a ticket for opening night. For reservations, call (727) 821-4069.

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