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Tampa Bay Lightning might be interested in acquiring feisty right wing Arron Asham



Take heart those of you from the recent debate on this blog who said the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to add some toughness. The team, apparently, has inquired about free agent Arron Asham. Agent Jarrett Bousquet said he has spoken to Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, though he added he hasn't spoken to Yzerman in about a week and characterized Tampa Bay's interest only as "mild."

 The level of the Lightning's interest is difficult to pinpoint. The team, under Yzerman, has adopted a policy of not commenting on potential player acquisitions, and Yzerman has been busy the past week or so with the acquisition of Simon Gagne in trade from the Flyers and the signing of two assistant coaches. A third assistant, by the way, is expected to be signed by the end of the week.

Either way, Asham, 32, is an intriguing player for Tampa Bay, which is trying to flesh out its third and fourth lines and lost some toughness this summer when it did not re-sign Zenon Konopka and traded defenseman Matt Walker for Gagne. Asham seems to fit the bill. He also seems to fit the profile of a tough guy who can play. In discussing the potential of signing players who can fight, both Yzerman and coach Guy Boucher said it is imperative the player also plays the game.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder had 10 goals, 24 points and 126 penalty minutes in 72 games last season for the Flyers while averaging 10:04 of ice time. He added four goals and seven points with 10 penalty minutes in 23 playoff games and was plus-4 while averaging 11:14 of ice time. And Asham is not afraid to step in when necessary with 14 fights last season and 31 the past two seasons.

Bousquet said Asham prefers to play for a team in the East, and would rather sign a two-year deal. Asham made $640,000 last season. He's surely looking for a raise, and the agent said he believes the Lightning would be "a real good fit."

The question is, where does he fit? 

If you look at the Lightning's depth chart, right wing seems pretty full with Marty St. Louis, Steve Downie and, as expected, Adam Hall and Niklas Persson. Left wing has a spot open if you consider Gagne, Ryan Malone and Johan Harju. But is it that crazy to believe  Persson or Hall could play their opposite wing?

As for possible timing, who knows? So much depends on Asham's salary expectations. Also, it is only mid July. There is plenty of time to fill out rosters, and time, generally, is on the side of the teams when it comes to most of the remaining free agents. As time goes on, perhaps players become more flexible when it comes to salary.

Whatever happens, there appears to be some interest on Tampa Bay's part, according to Asham's agent, anyway. Keep it in the back of your mind.

[Last modified: Saturday, August 21, 2010 12:15am]


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