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Acquiring Simon Gagne an intriguing thought for Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning has interest in acquiring Flyers left wing Simon Gagne. It is difficult to tell the level of interest because no one with the organization has commented publicly, but it would be naive to believe otherwise.

Why wouldn't Tampa Bay inquire about a proven goals and points producer being shopped by a team desperate to clear cap space?

And why wouldn't general manager Steve Yzerman salivate over the possibility of his top two lines being (left to right) Gagne-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Steve Downie?

Acquiring Gagne, 30, who in the past three seasons in which he was healthy scored 47, 41 and 34 goals, would make the Lightning playoff contenders and spike ticket sales. It would make Tampa Bay relevant in a market where it has been the butt of jokes the past two years.

And what's the harm in a little short-term gain while Yzerman decides the future direction of the team.

Gagne has only one season remaining on a contract that will pay $5.25 million, so the Lightning would not be locked in long term. Given Tampa Bay is about $14 million under the $59.4 million salary cap (assuming forwards Adam Hall, Johan Harju and Niklas Persson make the team), it has room to maneuver.

The caution is Gagne's history of injuries. He missed 24 games last season with groin and abdominal muscle problems that required surgery and four playoff games with a broken toe. It should be noted Gagne still had 17 goals and 40 points in 58 regular-season games and nine goals and 12 points in 19 playoff games.

But Gagne had double hernia surgery after the 2006-07 season, played 25 games in 2007-08 because of concussions and had hip surgery after 2008-09.

Then again, he has 259 goals and 524 points in 664 NHL games. And, boy, could Lecavalier use a scoring wing on his line, something he hasn't had for the better part of two seasons.

So, let's assume Yzerman makes a move. What can he give back? Philly isn't looking to take on much salary, so major assets likely are safe. It has eight defensemen with one-way contracts and attractive goaltending prospects, so there is depth from which to deal. There also are draft choices.

Then the question is, does Gagne, with a no-trade clause, want to come to a rebuilding team? But if Gagne signed on, wouldn't that timeline get a little shorter?

GOING: Another tie to previous management was cut last week when assistant GM Imran Khan, hired by former GM Brian Lawton, was fired. … Associate coach Rick Wilson has permission to seek other employment and reportedly is a finalist for an assistant job with the Wild.

Acquiring Simon Gagne an intriguing thought for Tampa Bay Lightning 07/17/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 17, 2010 8:20pm]

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