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Lightning takes Jonathan Drouin with No. 3 overall draft pick

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The Lightning took left wing Jonathan Drouin with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft after a surprise pick by the Panthers at No. 2 set up an interesting decision for Tampa Bay.

After the Avalanche took Nate MacKinnon at No. 2, Florida took Finnish center Alex Barkov at No. 2. That gave the Lightning a choice between Drouin and defenseman Seth Jones, who many believed, at least ahead of the draft, was the best player available.

Tampa Bay went with Drouin, the MVP of the junior Quebec league who had 41 goals and 105 points in 49 games last season for Halifax and whom Tampa Bay's director of amateur scouting called "as good a play-maker as their is in the draft."

Don Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting said Drouin has "the potential to be a Hall of Fame player."

The pick was not a huge surprise, though it is interesting that Tampa Bay, which still needs organizational depth on the blue line, passed on Jones. The Lightning has not had a defenseman with high-end offensive skills since Dan Boyle was traded in July 2008. Jones at least had the potential to be that. …

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As rumors swirl ahead of draft Lightning said to have interest in Bruins' Tyler Seguin

The rumor mill kicked into high gear on Saturday and the Lightning had a prime place at the table as there was speculation it had interest in speedy Bruins right wing Tyler Seguin.

The basis for this rumor: Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli were seen speaking at the Jersey City hotel that is headquarters for both organizations ahead of Sunday’s draft in Newark N.J.

Of course, as one report noted, perhaps they were just making dinner plans. Still, Canada's RDS television network reported the Lightning was "one of many teams in the mix."

That said, it was unclear if the talks really had any traction, but they apparently were instigated by Boston’s wish to move up in the draft. The Bruins first pick is No. 60. Their first-round pick (No. 29) went to the Stars in the Jaromir Jagr deal.

The Lightning has the No. 3 overall pick. There also have been plenty of rumblings Yzerman wouldn’t mind parting with left wing Ryan Malone. Tampa Bay also has a deep well of prospects at forward with which to deal. …

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What is your favorite Vinny Lecavalier memory?

Vinny Lecavalier celebrates after beating Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore for a goal during a 2004 playoff game.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Vinny Lecavalier celebrates after beating Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore for a goal during a 2004 playoff game.

The Lightning plans to buy out center Vinny Lecavalier's contract, making him a free agent on July 5. He will be able to sign with any team except Tampa Bay.

What is your favorite memory of the longtime Lightning captain, 2004 Stanley Cup champion and 2007 Rocket Richard winner, on or off the ice?


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Lightning will use compliance buyout on Vinny Lecavalier

The Lightning will use it's compliance buyout on captain Vinny Lecavalier, ending a relationship with the player who has been an iconic community figure since he was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1998 draft.

The buyout price is $32.667 million over 14 years, or $1.76 million per year. That breaks down to two-thirds of the $37 million Lecavalier is owed on the final seven years of his contract ($24.667 million) plus the $8 million he still has remaining in signing bonuses.

Lecavalier becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5, free to sign with any team. He does not have to clear unconditional waivers because he has a no-move clause in his contract.

"Listen, we're going to sit down and have conversations and start looking through various teams with possible needs, fits," Lecavalier's agent Kent Hughes said. "He's got a young family. He's got to go through hockey-wise what fits and family-wise and make a decision."

The Lightning is not only losing a player, but part of its history. …

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Defenseman Keith Aulie signs 1-year, 1-way deal

The Lightning on Wednesday signed defenseman Keith Aulie to a one-year, one-way deal. Financial terms were not immediately available. He would have been a restricted free agent.

Aulie, 24, had two goals, seven points and 60 penalty minutes in 45 games last season while averaging 12:49 of ice time. He also led Tampa Bay with 91 hits.

Here is the announcement from the team: …

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A compliance buyout story with a dash of Lecavalier intrigue

The Lightning is considering using an amnesty buyout on Vinny Lecavalier's contract that has seven years, $45 million remaining with a $7.727 million salary cap hit.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The Lightning is considering using an amnesty buyout on Vinny Lecavalier's contract that has seven years, $45 million remaining with a $7.727 million salary cap hit.

Were the Lightning and Maple Leafs putting together a deal that would have allowed Tampa Bay to not only avoid buying out Vinny Lecavalier but to ultimately keep its captain on the roster at a reduced salary and cap hit?

That is what the New York Post postulated on Wednesday. Though the story is without a source and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an e-mail to the Tampa Bay Times that "no Lecavalier hypothetical has been brought to our attention," something prompted the league to send a memo to its general managers that such a scenario would be deemed a circumvention of the collective bargaining agreement and any resulting contracts would not be registered.

According to the Post, here is how the deal would have worked:

The Lightning, theoretically, would have sent Lecavalier and a prospect to the rolling-in-dough Maple Leafs who would then use an amnesty buyout on Lecavalier, making him a free agent. Tampa Bay would then re-sign Lecavalier to a more affordable contract. The Lightning gets to keep Lecavalier, saves a ton of money and the Maple Leafs get a prospect. …

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Lecavalier's agent on buyout chance: 'We understand it's something they might be contemplating'

Buying out Vinny Lecavalier and/or Ryan Malone (with two, years, $5 million left on his contract and a $4.5 million annual cap hit) would give the Lightning needed salary-cap relief.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Buying out Vinny Lecavalier and/or Ryan Malone (with two, years, $5 million left on his contract and a $4.5 million annual cap hit) would give the Lightning needed salary-cap relief.

When the Blackhawks on Monday claimed the Stanley Cup with a Game 6 victory over the Bruins, it was important to note the time -- 11 p.m. eastern -- because the compliance buyout period was set to begin 48 hours later.

So, mark it down. From 11 p.m. Wednesday through 5 p.m. July 4, teams can buy out up to two contracts without it counting against the salary cap. The provision is to help teams manage the $64.3 million cap for 2013-14, down from $70.2 million last season.

For the Lightning, the focus seems to be on captain Vinny Lecavalier and left wing Ryan Malone.

Malone and Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, said on Tuesday that they had not heard anything from the team regarding a buyout. But Hughes said, "We understand it's something they might be contemplating. It would be natural to do so."

Added Malone: "It occupies zero of my thoughts. I have no control over it. If they want to buy me out, there's nothing I can do. I would try to prove them wrong. It is what it is." …

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Dana Tyrell evacuated from Calgary condo to avoid flooding

Dana Tyrell evacuated his home Thursday night ahead of the expected major flooding that has swamped not only Calgary but several communities in southern Alberta.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Dana Tyrell evacuated his home Thursday night ahead of the expected major flooding that has swamped not only Calgary but several communities in southern Alberta.

Lightning right wing Dana Tyrell is high and dry at his parents house in Airdrie, Alberta. The neighborhood surrounding his Calgary condo, not so much.

Tyrell evacuated his home Thursday night ahead of the expected major flooding that has swamped not only Calgary -- reports out of Canada said the Saddledome, home of the Flames, had water up to the 10th row of seats -- but several communities in southern Alberta.

"My condo is right next to the Saddledome," Tyrell said. "It's crazy. I've never seen anything like it."

Former Lightning general manager Jay Feaster, now GM of the Flames, said his home in a Calgary suburb has not been affected.

The flooding, which occurred after heavy rains swelled the Bow and Elbow rivers, was expected. The CBC in Canada said about 75,000 people were evacuated.

Tyrell, 24, who grew up in Airdrie, about 15 miles north of Calgary, said his 17th floor condo will not be damaged by the flooding.

"Everything is shut down, everything is flooded," Tyrell said, and added, "I wish I was in Tampa right now."

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Rick Bowness still wants to be a head coach

Rick Bowness said the Lightning offers him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.

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Rick Bowness said the Lightning offers him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Rick Bowness, the Lightning's new associate coach, said he is all-in as a member of Tampa Bay's staff and he can't wait to work with head coach Jon Cooper. But that doesn't mean Bowness has given up on one day again being a head coach in the NHL.

"Absolutely, that's never gone away," he said.

Still, being a head coach does not supersede what Bowness said is his ultimate goal.

"I want to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "That's my goal. I don't care what my job description says under my name. If it's assistant skate sharpener, I don't care. I want to win a Stanley Cup."

Bowness said the Lightning offers him the best chance to do that.

"Every scout I spoke to said there's some good, young prospects here," Bowness said. "Every scout I spoke to said ... it's a good time to get in there."

Bowness, 58, will guide the Lightning's defense and the penalty kill, the same duties he had in seven seasons with the Canucks before he was fired in a housecleaning that included head coach Alain Vignault after Vancouver was swept by the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. …

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Syracuse D Andrej Sustr praised by Crunch general manager

The Lightning signed Andrej Sustr in March as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

The Lightning signed Andrej Sustr in March as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

It was a whirlwind of a season for defenseman Andrej Sustr -- going from college to a two-game gig with the Lightning to a prominent role with AHL Syracuse -- and by all accounts he handled it with flying colors.

"You never know until a player is put in a situation how they're going to react," said Julien BriseBois, general manager of AHL Syracuse and the Lightning's assistant GM. "But we knew he was a good player. We knew he would be able to handle this."

The 6-foot-8, Sustr, 22, whom Tampa Bay signed in March as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, was solid during the Crunch's playoff run that ended Tuesday with a Game 6 loss to Grand Rapids in the league final.

Suster had two goals, seven points, 25 penalty minutes and was plus-11 in 18 games. He had previously played two games with the Lightning and eight regular-season games with the Crunch.

The pressure of playoff games, though, are a whole different animal, especially when Syracuse fell behind three games to none to Grand Rapids. …

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Lightning taking Community Hero nominations

The Lightning announced it is taking nominations for its Community Hero program which has donated a combined $4.1 million the past two seasons to non-profit organizations in the Tampa Bay area that are representative to a "hero's cause."

The program is part of a $10 million charitable commitment by owner Jeff Vinik and wife, Penny.

Here is the announcement from the team: …

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Marty St. Louis wins his third Lady Byng Trophy

Marty St. Louis led the league with 60 points on 17 goals and a league-best 43 assists with just 14 penalty minutes.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Marty St. Louis led the league with 60 points on 17 goals and a league-best 43 assists with just 14 penalty minutes.

Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis won the Lady Byng Memorial Award after leading the league with 60 points on 17 goals and a league-best 43 assists with just 14 penalty minutes.

It is the third time St. Louis has won the trophy given for sportsmanship in a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Only four players – Frank Boucher (7), Wayne Gretzky (5), Pavel Datsyuk (4) and Red Kelly (4) – have won more.

St. Louis, who turns 38 on Tuesday, also is up for the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by the players. He has won two Art Ross trophies for leading the league in points and in the Lightning’s 2003-04 Stanley Cup season, won the Hart Trophy as the regular-season most valuable player (as voted by the media) and the Lindsay, then known as the Pearson.

On winning the Lady Byng: It’s an honor, obviously. I feel very fortunate and lucky in my career that I get to pick up some hardware along the way. I feel it’s something that when you’re done playing and you retire it’s going to look nice on the resume. …

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Lightning signs Swiss player Retu Suri with eye toward future

Swiss star Retu Suri has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Lightning.

There is an understanding between the team and player, however, that Suri, a left wing, will play next season with Zug in the Swiss elite league to further develop his game and have the best chance to play on the Swiss national team in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"We're comfortable with that," general manager Steve Yzerman said.

In the meantime, Suri, 24, will go on the Lightning's reserve list and the team will hold the players rights until he is 27, Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said.

Suri, 24, is coming off a terrific world championship in which he had five goals and eight points in 10 games. He scored twice in the shootout that decided Switzerland's 3-2 upset win over Canada in the preliminary round, a game certainly witnessed by Yzerman, who was general manager of Team Canada.

Suri, 6 feet, 185 pounds, had 14 goals, 25 points and 34 penalty minutes in 46 games last season for Zug. …

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New associate coach Rick Bowness on GM Yzerman: 'I do believe he's going to build a winner'

Rick Bowness said even after 24 seasons as an NHL head or assistant coach, he still has no problem getting the competitive juices flowing. Add he has never won a Stanley Cup as a coach or a player, and Bowness sees his new position as a Lightning associate coach as part of a quest as well as a job.

"What's carried me through my life is my passion for the game," Bowness said Monday after his signing was announced. "The one thing I don't have is a Stanley Cup and that drives me every day. I'm going (to the Lightning) to help (general manager Steve Yzerman) and to help (coach Jon Cooper) and (owner Jeff Vinik) win a Stanley Cup. That's why I'm going there."

Bowness, 58, spent the past seven seasons as a Canucks assistant. He was fired last month in a housecleaning that included coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Sharks. In six previous seasons he was a Coyotes assistant and has had head coaching stints with the Jets, Bruins, Senators, Islanders and Coyotes, and led Boston to the 1992 Eastern Conference final. …

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Lightning hires Rick Bowness as associate coach

Rick Bowness spent the past seven seasons as a Canucks assistant.

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Rick Bowness spent the past seven seasons as a Canucks assistant.

The Lightning on Monday hired Rick Bowness as an associate coach and to lead the defense and penalty kill.

"We were looking for experience," coach Jon Cooper said. "It was a no-brainer for us."

Bowness, 58, has been a head or assistant coach in the NHL for 24 years, and has a wealth of knowledge that will be a huge help to Cooper in his first full season as an NHL head coach. Bowness spent the past seven seasons as a Canucks assistant. He was fired as part of a housecleaning that included coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Sharks.

Cooper said Tampa Bay had face-to-face interviews with five other candidates.

Here is the announcement from the team:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have added NHL coaching veteran Rick Bowness to the position of associate coach on head coach Jon Cooper’s staff today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. …

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