Is Artyukhin deal getting close?
Back from vacation for a two-week spurt before heading to New York for 10 days to see family, so there should be a bit more blog activity here the next little while.
So, let's talk Evgeny Artyukhin.
As we read recently http://www.tampabay.com/sports/hockey/lightning/article511023.ece, the Lightning (well, prospective owner Oren Koules, anyway) wants the Big Russian as part of a crash line that will include center Chris Gratton and Nick Tarnasky. The problem is Artyukhin's agent Mark Gandler has been consistent asking for $1-million a season for whatever length the contract might be, an amount Lightning GM Jay Feaster has declined to meet the past two seasons. Consequently, Artyukhin, 6 feet 5 and at least 254 pounds, has played in Russia.
Gandler, who had proposed a two-year deal he said was to prove his client was serious about joining Tampa Bay, also has said he is getting pressure from Russian teams trying to put next season's rosters together and would love to keep Artyukhin in his homeland. So if Artyukhin is to be signed by the Lightning, we might hear something sooner rather than later. The scuttlebutt is the sides are still talking. The question is, can they bridge the gap and the dug-in heels that developed during two years of failed negotiations?
Doing so would give Tampa Bay the potential of a formidable physical presence, from one line at least. You missed that last season, didn't you? Too many nights the game was played, as coach John Tortorella said, like a ballet. The league did not make it any easier with such an inconsistent standard from its referees on penalty calls. But didn't you love the hard-hitting, fight-filled game with the Canucks? A game the Lightning won, by the way.
Constructing the line also is a plan, one that Koules likes. Since he seems as if he and former NHLer Len Barrie will be running the team by the June 20-21 draft in Ottawa, it is a plan I would guess we will see take shape.