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Stamkos deflects speculation of signing with Maple Leafs in future

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, 24, a Markham, Ontario native, will not be an unrestricted free agent until after the 2015-16 season.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, 24, a Markham, Ontario native, will not be an unrestricted free agent until after the 2015-16 season.

With LeBron James making the blockbuster decision this month to return home to Cleveland, it sparked continued speculation whether one the biggest NHL stars will make a similar move to play for his hometown team.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, 24, a Markham, Ontario native, will not be an unrestricted free agent until after the 2015-16 season. But Stamkos, at a Coca-Cola ball-hockey promotional event in Toronto Wednesday, was asked whether there would be an allure to signing with the Maple Leafs, the team he grew up watching.

“We’ll see what happens. It’s a couple years away,” Stamkos told The Canadian Press. “Right now I’m focused on what I have to do to win in Tampa, and I think we’ve really established ourselves as a team that can compete in upcoming years.

“For me, that’s the important thing is getting a chance to win. It looks like we’re going to have that chance for a couple years.” …

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Lightning signs Brenden Morrow

The Lightning landed the veteran presence it had been looking for Friday, announcing the signing of veteran forward Brenden Morrow to a one-year deal.

The 35-year-old Morrow is a former Stars captain. He had 13 goals and 25 points for St. Louis last year.

The team also announced the signing of forward Philippe Paradis to a one-year, two-way contract.

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Feaster thrilled to be back with Lightning, "hurt" by St. Louis trade

Jay Feaster was proudly wearing his Lightning 2004 Stanley Cup ring Tuesday morning, back in an office at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and admittedly bleeding blue again.

"I don't know that I've ever stopped," he said.

Feaster, 51, the former long-time Tampa Bay general manager, was hired to be the executive director of community hockey development, with the job to help grow hockey at the youth/grassroots level. Though Feaster was fired by the Lightning in 2008, most recently working as Calgary's GM until his December departure, he kept his Brandon home.

Feaster, who was with the Lightning for 10 years, said he always considered the area "home." He made it known he'd like to return to the organization, though not necessarily in hockey operations, and discussions were rekindled when he was in Tampa in March for the 10th anniversary Stanley Cup celebration.

"It's awesome," Feaster said. "The previous ownership group that (Jeff Vinik) bought it from, they did everything they could to try to purge any evidence and record and memory of the 04 Cup win. So it's nice to be welcomed back like this."

 …

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Stralman says Lightning "close to complete"

Anton Stralman signed a five-year $22.5 million deal with the Lightning July 1.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Anton Stralman signed a five-year $22.5 million deal with the Lightning July 1.

New Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman is a huge heavy metal music fan, and can string a few tunes himself.

Stralman, 27, said when he and his wife Johanna moved in together in 2005, he had to give up video games, so he decided to buy a guitar for his 19th birthday. He’s no Slash, but can play Guns N Roses “Patience” pretty well.

“I wish I was good, like to think I’m good,” Stralman said, smiling. “But it’s just not happening.”

Fortunately for Stralman, he can stick to his day job, which recently got a lot more security. The former Ranger signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal with Tampa Bay on July 1, with the father of four making a brief trip to Tampa this week to house-hunt and research schools.

While Stralman doesn’t know the bay area very well, he’s well-versed in his new employer.

“This team really excites me,” Stralman said. “I think this team is very promising. When you’re making your choice, you want to see progress in a team in a positive way, and I think this team has all those good areas.

“I think this team is close to complete. Honestly the forwards, tremendous firepower there, best scorer in the league (Steven Stamkos), can’t ask for more really.” …

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Lightning sign Kunyk and Corrente

The Lightning added to its depth at AHL Syracuse Tuesday be signing F Cody Kunyk and D Matt Corrente to one-year, two-way deals.

Corrente, 26, played in 72 games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) last season, with two goals and 11 points to go along with 136 penalty minutes. He ranked tied for first on the Checkers for plus/minus with a plus-9 rating. The Mississauga, Ontario native also led all Charlotte skaters for penalty minutes. Corrente set career highs in 2013-14 for games played and plus/minus. The 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman has appeared in 34 career NHL games, all with the New Jersey Devils over parts of two seasons, posting six assists and 68 penalty minutes

Kunyk, 24, made his NHL debut with the Lightning on April 13 at Washington, logging 10:12 in ice time. He was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent on March 20, 2014.

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native skated in 37 games for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks this season, posting 22 goals and 43 points to go along with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-13 rating.

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Boyle calls signing with Lightning a "home run"

Brian Boyle, who signed a three-year, $6 million deal with the Lightning, said he passed up more money from Toronto to come to Tampa.

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Brian Boyle, who signed a three-year, $6 million deal with the Lightning, said he passed up more money from Toronto to come to Tampa.

Brian Boyle was on the tail end of his honeymoon, having gone from Napa Valley to two islands in Hawaii, when the key date of July 1st hit.

The long-time Ranger got up at 5 a.m., had some coffee on the porch of his Maui hotel with his new bride, model Lauren Bedford, knowing the opening day of free agency would be a hectic one.

Boyle, 29,, said he and his wife - who is from Orlando - had always been "drawn" to Tampa. And when the Rangers didn't give much of an offer, but the Lightning came in, they were excited.

"We jumped at at his quick as we could," Boyle said. "It was kind of a home run."

Boyle, who signed a three-year, $6 million deal with the Lightning, said he passed up more money from Toronto to come to Tampa. He will replace Nate Thompson's role as a fourth-line type defensive-minded forward and strong penalty killer, his "bread and butter." Boyle, at 6-foot-7, 244-pounds brings much-needed size to a young and small forward group.

The fact Boyle's wife is from Orlando was just a "cherry on top." He said there was a lot to like about the organization. …

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Lightning officially announce hiring of former GM Feaster

Jay Feaster, the GM for the Lightning's only Stanley Cup team in 2004, will be working with local youth to help grow hockey in the Tampa Bay area.

Times files (2008)

Jay Feaster, the GM for the Lightning's only Stanley Cup team in 2004, will be working with local youth to help grow hockey in the Tampa Bay area.

The Lightning officially announced Monday it has brought back former general manager Jay Feaster, who will be the executive director of community hockey development.

Feaster, 51, the GM for the Lightning's only Stanley Cup team in 2004, will be working with local youth to help grow hockey in the Tampa Bay area. He will oversee and manage the Lightning’s outreach to youth and high school hockey programs and further increase participation and build relationships with local arenas.

More from the team:

Feaster led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory in 2004 as GM. He worked in the Lightning’s hockey operations department from 1998 through 2008. Feaster was named 2004 NHL Executive of the Year by vote of peers in The Sporting News and ranked second among professional sports general managers by Forbes Magazine in 2007.

Feaster most recently worked with the Calgary Flames for three years as both general manager and assistant general manager of the team. He was originally hired by the Flames as assistant general manager under Darryl Sutter and eventually took over as interim general manager on December 10, 2010. Feaster was then promoted to the general manager position on May 18, 2011.

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Koekkoek ready to put shoulder injuries behind him

Considering the hard-luck D Slater Koekkoek has had with injuries, it’d be easy for him to be down.

But after Koekkoek’s last three seasons have ended in shoulder surgeries – two on his left, the latest on his right – he and the Lightning have to look on the bright side.

“The good news is, he only has two shoulders,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “He can’t hurt another one.”

But Koekkoek, 20, taken 10th overall in the 2012 draft, is feeling good entering what’ll be his first professional season, most likely with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. Koekkoek joked he got into trouble the first day at this week’s development camp for challenging his non-contact status in practice.  And Koekkoek believes he’ll be 100-percent by training camp, his shoulders finally not an issue.

“It’s hard,” he said. “I’ve gotten the same questions for how long now? But maybe I got them fixed up now then I’ll be good for the next 20 years. It’s something I had to deal with, it’s not my fault or anything, just had a bad break. And I’m just going to move forward.” …

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Lightning sign Sustr to a one-year, one way deal

The Lightning announced Friday it has signed defenseman Andrej Sustr to a one-year, one-way deal.

Sustr, 23, was a restricted free agent after playing 43 games for Tampa Bay last season. The 6-foot-99, 225-pound defenseman is expected to start the season with the Lightning, with the team hoping he can take another step with his game.

Tampa Bay still has to sign fellow restricted free agents Brett Connolly and Richard Panik.

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Cooper on Lightning offseason moves and tempering expectations

Lightning coach Jon Cooper has been pleased with the team's offseason acquisitions, believing it has taken a step forward.

Cooper feels the defense got shored up in trading for Jason Garrison and signing Anton Stralman, and the team is more stable in net with veteran backup Evgeni Nabokov. Cooper thought the re-signing of veteran Ryan Callahan was huge, thinking it paved the ways for others wanting to come to Tampa Bay.

And the Lightning got a little tougher with the signing of Rangers 6-foot-6 center Brian Boyle.

But Cooper isn't ready to say the Lightning has made it.

"I've never seen a team, on paper, win the Stanley Cup," Cooper said.

To Cooper, the Lightning is still very young at forward, with the lone veterans Callahan, Boyle, Valteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos. Filppula is the only forward who is 30 or older. With 19-year-old Jonathan Drouin expected to crack the roster, as well as Nikita Kucherov and Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay may have - believe it or not - got younger.

And while the Lightning made the playoffs last season, there's no guarantees. …

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Lightning prospect Erne may need wrist surgery

Lightning left wing prospect Adam Erne will have his injured left wrist examined next week in Cleveland, with it possible he'll need surgery.

Erne, 19, Tampa Bay's second-round pick in 2013, is being held out of some of this week's development camp due to what he thinks might be a partial tear.

"It's been bothering me for a while, so it'll be good to get it taken care of and finally get it over with," Erne said. "It's better now than later."

Erne played in 48 games with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season, recording 21 goals and 62 points along with 65 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Remparts for points and was fourth for goals. Erne played in one playoff game with Quebec during the QMJHL playoffs and recorded one goal.

Erne was also sidelined with a lacerated spleen this season, which was a unique challenge for him. But both Erne and the Lightning are encouraged with his development progress. …

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Nabokov excited about joining Lightning

Veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said he had a few options during free agency, but once the Lightning called, it became his No. 1 focus.

"It pretty much starts from the top, with Steve Yzerman, the coach, and the depth of the team is going to get better," Nabokov said. "I like the direction of the team is going, with a lot of young guys. There's a lot of talent there."

Nabokov, 38, has played well in recent seasons, including going 15-14 with a 2.74 goals against average in 40 games last season for the Islanders. Though he's played in at least 40 games in each of the last 12 seasons, Nabokov is open to any role, even if that means seeing less action behind starter Ben Bishop.

"Absolutely," Nabokov said. "Anytime my name is called, I'm going to be ready. Obviously I understand my age, and people talk about it. But I don't feel it. Nothing I can do with the situation. At this age, I'm fine with it. I'm still enjoying playing hockey. I still feel like I can help the team achieve a goal so that's why I'm still playing." …

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Lightning sign Brian Boyle to three-years, $6 million deal

The Lightning continued its busy day in free agency, signing center Brian Boyle to a three-year, $6 million deal.

Like defenseman Anton Stralman, whom Tampa Bay signed today for five-years, $22.5 milllion, Boyle was a key contributor to the Rangers last season.

Boyle, a 6-foot-7, 244-pound forward, had six goals and 12 assists in 82 games for the Rangers. He's played in seven NHL seasons, five with New York and two with LA. He'll provide some depth to the Lightning forwards, and brings some grit.

"Tampa was the right fit for him," agent Paul Krepelka said. "His role with the team, the coaching staff, familiarity with Ryan Callahan and some of the guys. I don't think they have many kids who can do what he does, that's why they pursued him. He's excited for the opportunity, a good team, good franchise, good area to live in."

Boyle's wife is from the Tampa area. They got married last weekend and are on their honeymoon in Hawaii now.

 

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Lightning sign Stralman, Brian Boyle and Nabokov

The Lightning signed Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman to a reported five-year, $22.5-million contract.

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The Lightning signed Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman to a reported five-year, $22.5-million contract.

Update 6:00 p.m. The Lightning found its backup goalie, signing veteran Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year, $1.55 million deal.

Nabokov, 38, was 15-14 with a 2.74 goals against average in 40 games for the Islanders last season, his 13th in the NHL. With Nabokov in net, it gives prospects Vasilevskiy and Gudlevskis an opportunity to play more in AHL this season.

Update 5:45 p.m  The Lightning has signed center Brian Boyle to a three-year, $6 million deal.

Like defenseman Anton Stralman, whom the Lightning signed to a five-year, $22.5 million deal today, Boyle was a key contributor to the Rangers last season.

Update: The top defenseman on the market, Matt Niskanen, signed with the Capitals.

Update 2:34 p.m. After a few quiet hours in free agency, the Lightning snagged one of the top defenseman on the market, signing Anton Stralman to a five-year, $22.5 million deal.

Stralman, 27, has played the last three seasons for the Rangers, tallying one goal and 12 assists in 81 games last season. His stock rose after a strong showing in New York's run to the Stanley Cup finals. …

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