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Lightning castoff Radim Vrbata traded to the Coyotes for Todd Fedoruk and David Hale (updated)

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July

The Lightning was able to rid itself of a $6 million contract over the next two seasons by trading disappointing right wing Radim Vrbata to the Coyotes, the team he left to sign with the Lightning as a free agent. The Lightning got left wing Todd Fedoruk and defenseman David Hale in return.

Vrbata was signed to a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract last summer, but returned to the Czech Republic because, in great part, of his wife's difficult pregnancy. Vrbata left after scoring just three goals in 18 games for the Lightning. Vrbata did not draw a salary from Tampa Bay while he was playing in the Czech Republic, but he was still Lightning property and the team was responsible for the final two years of his contract.

GM Brian Lawton, though, had said Vrbata did not fit into the Lightning's plans for next season and said Vrbata's agent Rich Evans could try to find Vrbata another NHL team with which to play. Evans said he always was zeroed in on Phoenix, a team with which Vrbata was comfortable and which Evans said wants to bring in more veteran guys who had success playing with younger players. Vrbata is 28. Had Vrbata not been moved, he likely would have played next season for AHL Norfolk, drawing his $3 million salary.

"He has no ill will towards the Lightning," Evans said of his client.

As it turns out, the Lightning will save a nice chunk of change. It got rid of Vrbata's $6 million obligation and took back Fedoruk, who has two years, $2.175 million left, and Hale, owed $725,000 this season before becoming a free agent. That's a savings of $3.1 million over two years.

The question is, will Fedoruk and Hale stay with the team? Fedoruk is making a lot of money for a fourth-line guy, who doesn't fight much anymore. Still, Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he didn't get Fedoruk to fight.

"I'm just looking for him to play pretty hard," Lawton said, adding Fedoruk skates well enough to occasionally give third-line minutes. Hale is a one-way guy. At the very least he gives the Lightning even more depth on the blue line and more options when it comes to trades even if Hale is kept.

Fedoruk, 30, 6 feet 2, 240 pounds, had six goals, 13 points and 72 penalty minutes in 72 games last season. He averaged 10:35 of ice time. His five fights were the fewest in his NHL career during a regular season. 

Hale, 28, 6-2, 213, had three goals, nine points and was minus-11 in 48 games. He averaged 15:08 of ice time.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:39pm]

    

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