Artyukhin agreement official, contract to wait
As expected the Lightning and big Russian Evgeny Artyukhin struck an agreement Friday on a two-year contract.
"I am more relieved than anything that we have finally concluded this discussion that we've had for two years," Gandler said.
It was unclear how much Artyukhin will be paid, but the 6-foot-5, 254-pound wing had asked for $1-million a season. At one point Thursday, the sides were believed to be about $100,000 apart.
Artyukhin, whom Tampa Bay drafted 94th overall in 2001, last played for the Lightning in 2005-06. He has played in Russia the past two seasons because of the contract dispute. He had eight goals, 14 assists and 282 penalty minutes in 67 games in his homeland.
All that is left is for Artyukhin to sign, but that won't happen until July 1. Because Artyukhin is a restricted free agent who did not play for his parent team last season, he cannot sign until July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Gandler said he has asked the NHL Players' Association to review the rule next week with the NHL to perhaps carve out an exception.
It is believed prospective owner Oren Koules wants Artyukhin to play on a line with center Chris Gratton, who also must be re-signed, and Nick Tarnasky.
"Arty," Gandler said, "is very excited."