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Dudley looking, but no deals done yet

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 3, 2001


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- General manager Rick Dudley maintained (again) that no trades are imminent. But he said his current scouting trip is being made with an eye toward a future deal.

"I'm just trying to get an anticipatory look at a couple of things," he said.

Dudley has seen the Hurricanes, Canadiens, Sabres, Devils and Thrashers. He also has seen minor-league teams in Bridgeport, Conn., and Norfolk, Va.

"I don't have a deal working. I can promise you that. Whether it stays like that remains to be seen," Dudley said. "A lot of GMs are talking. I try to stay in contact. We've gotten to a point now in which people have made assessments and know what they need."

What does the Lightning need?

A scoring wing would be nice, but those are at a premium. A more doable acquisition is a top-four defenseman who can make the first pass in the defensive zone, something Tampa Bay has had trouble doing.

It is intriguing, then, that Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips, the No. 1 pick of the 1996 draft, has been mentioned as a possibility. The Senators need a center, something the Lightning has in abundance, and no one has denied Brian Holzinger could be moved.

Another who may be in the trade-me category is defenseman Andrei Zyuzin. He was a team-worst minus-6 entering Friday's game against the Sabres at HSBC Arena and was scratched for the fourth time in six games.

BIG CHANCE: Nikita Alexeev, who played juniors in Erie, Pa., about an hour's drive from Buffalo, had about 20 friends in the stands. But it was more important to impress coach John Tortorella, who played Alexeev for just the fifth time in 12 games.

"I'm pumped," Alexeev said. "It's an opportunity to get more confidence and learn a lot and get better."

Alexeev got his chance because of Jimmie Olvestad's sprained right shoulder that should keep him out for two weeks.

SABRES SOUTH: That's what they're calling the Lightning, which has five former Sabres: Holzinger, forwards Dave Andreychuk and Matthew Barnaby, and defensemen Cory Sarich, Petr Svoboda and Grant Ledyard.

Dudley played six seasons for Buffalo in the '70s and early '80s, and coached the team from 1989-92. Tortorella was a Sabres assistant from 1989-95 and associate coach Craig Ramsey played for the Sabres from 1971-85.

NOT PLANNED: Andreychuk, Barnaby and Holzinger played as a line and took the opening faceoff. Tortorella said that had nothing to do with the game in Buffalo.

"It's three guys who have some pretty good memories of this place," Holzinger said. "To be put on the same line, it's different but exciting."

ODDS AND ENDS: Chris Taylor, the younger brother of center Tim, is the leading scorer for the Sabres' minor-league team in Rochester, N.Y. ... Defenseman Nolan Pratt (broken right foot) was activated off injured reserve and played his first game of the season. ... Defenseman Jassen Cullimore (sprained left ankle) was scratched.

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