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Barrie bold after Lightning's latest acquisitions

Lightning ownership has moved quickly since taking over the team to remake the franchise.

Monday night it took a moment to admire its handiwork.

"I'll predict right now, Tampa Bay will win the division," owner Len Barrie said. "That's how much we like our team."

The statement came after another busy day in which Barrie said the Lightning agreed to terms with veteran forward Mark Recchi and free-agent defenseman Andrew Hutchinson. It also heard big Russian Evgeny Artyukhin signed a contract and sent it to Tampa Bay to be finalized.

"We're in the hunt," Barrie said. "We like our team. "We're all set."

For now, anyway. But there is plenty of scuttlebutt the Lightning will scour the waiver wire for more defensemen.

One of the perks of finishing last in the league is having first crack at players on waivers. It is thought players such as Darryl Sydor or Bryan McCabe, both of whom might be roster casualties, could be enticing.

But that speculation is for later. Monday, the talk was of the three seemingly certain additions.

Recchi, 40, a 19-year veteran with 522 career goals, agreed to a one-year, $1.25-million deal with incentives that could bump it up to $1.5-million.

Financial terms were unclear for Hutchinson, 28, but the 6-foot-2, 206-pounder who won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 agreed to a two-year, one way contract that indicates he will be a top-seven player. He had 18 goals, 64 points and 66 penalty minutes last season in 67 games for AHL Hartford.

Artyukhin, according to agent Mark Gandler, signed his two-year, $1.9-million contract and sent it to the Lightning to be finalized. He also sent his expired contract from Russia's Central Army team as proof he is not employed in his homeland.

The NHL is requesting documentation because it does not have a transfer agreement with Russia.

It is unclear how quickly the deal that pays $900,000 next season will be finalized. Owner Oren Koules said he has yet to see the contract and it must be registered with the league. Still, the two-year process to get the 6-foot-5, 254-pound forward back in a Lightning uniform seems to be coming to an end.

As for Recchi, Barrie said the Lightning's interest is as much about what he can do off the ice as on it.

"I've known Mark for about 20 years," Barrie said. "He's a future Hall of Famer, and with Gary Roberts and working with Vinny (Lecavalier), the culture of our locker room is going to be set and become a winning locker room."

Recchi had 14 goals and 48 points in 72 games split between the Penguins and Thrashers.

"I've talked to Vinny, I've talked to Gary," Barrie said. "Every player I've talked to can't wait for training camp to get started."

As well as what Barrie promised will be a hunt for the Southeast title.

FLAMES: Free-agent forward Todd Bertuzzi signed a one-year, $1.95-million contract.

FLYERS: General manager Paul Holmgren agreed to a three-year contract extension.

Times wires contributed to this report. Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Barrie bold after Lightning's latest acquisitions 07/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 11:42am]
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