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Lightning deals Cross for Modin

New LW has 104 mph slap shot and a chance to play on top 2 lines.

By TOM JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 2, 1999


TAMPA -- The changes continue with the Lightning.

One day it's a demotion. Another day it's scanning the waiver wire. Another day it's a free-agent signing.

Friday, it was a trade. And a doozy at that, considering it involved one of the most recognizable players in franchise history a day before the regular-season opener.

The Lightning sent defenseman Cory Cross, a regular since 1994, and a seventh-round draft pick in the 2001 draft to Toronto for left wing Frederik Modin, a highly skilled, but inconsistent offensive threat.

The deal comes only two days after Cross signed a new contract after missing all of training camp over a contract dispute. But general manager Rick Dudley said the trade had nothing to do with Cross' lengthy negotiations.

"We are simply trying to make our team better, and we feel we are doing that," Dudley said. "This is no reflection on Cory Cross."

It is a reflection of the Lightning's depth at defense and a need for goal scorers. With off-season acquisitions of defensemen Bill Houlder, Andrei Zyuzin and Ian Herbers, Cross went from being one of the team's top four defenseman to sixth or seventh. Plus, Dudley said, the Lightning has at least five defensemen waiting in the minors, including former No. 1 picks Paul Mara and Mario Larocque.

"And we like Modin because he is big (6-4, 220 pounds), can skate and has good hands," Dudley said. "Plus, he has one of the hardest wrist shots you have ever seen. We feel he can play on one of our top two lines. The knock on him is his consistency. But we always have room for a skilled player."

Modin, who turns 25 next week, scored 16 goals each of the past two seasons while playing on a line with superstar Mats Sundin, who predicts Modin could become the league's next John LeClair. But Modin's tenacity for going to the net and taking punishment has been questioned by some.

His slap shot during skills competitions, however, has been clocked at 104 mph -- the hardest of any player in the NHL the past two seasons. A native of Sundsvall, Sweden, Modin became expendable after Toronto moved highly touted youngster Jonas Hoglund to Sundin's line.

Modin said he was stunned by the trade, but said, "Tampa Bay is a good young team, and it is a good fit for me. They have a young team that is trying to rebuild and it makes me feel good that they would want me."

Cross was just as excited to be going to Toronto.

"I'm a little disappointed to be leaving, but to go to a hockey hotbed like Toronto is definitely exciting," he said. "It's not a complete surprise. I know Toronto has shown interest in me in the past. And with the contract negotiations, I got the feeling (the Lightning) weren't doing much to get me in here. I wish things had worked out a little better with the new people here, but they wanted to go in a different direction, I guess."

Modin may not join the team in time to play tonight's season opener. Nevertheless, the Lightning will have to make another roster move today if Andreas Johansson is actived off the injured reserve list as expected. It will need to remove one player to get to the NHL roster limit of 23. The trade also means the Lightning will start the season with only six defensemen.

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