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Lack of trade-deadline moves by Tampa Bay Lightning puzzling

Wing Teddy Purcell came from the Kings in the Lightning’s only trade-deadline deal.

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Wing Teddy Purcell came from the Kings in the Lightning’s only trade-deadline deal.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Wednesday that his activity, or lack of it, at the trade deadline will help build the team's future.

But what about the players and coaches who are here now?

Nothing against the acquisition of wing Teddy Purcell; he sounds like a good guy with plenty of upside. It just seems Lawton could have done more to boost what he hasn't been shy about calling an important push for the playoffs.

Look, the argument that Tampa Bay does not have the organizational depth, except in goal, with which to trade is valid, as is that Tampa Bay needs its draft picks to rebuild a minor-league system depleted by a decade of poor selections.

But it is under those circumstances that management must get creative, especially when it has a team that, despite so many glaring weaknesses — including a shaky defense that has trouble moving the puck and a lack of secondary scoring — has put itself in position to challenge for the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

It's hard to imagine the Lightning could not have matched, or exceeded, the Flames' offer to the Oilers for defenseman Steve Staios, who went to Calgary for a third-round draft pick and journeyman defenseman Aaron Johnson, who is no one's idea of an All-Star.

Or the Capitals' offer to the Hurricanes for Scott Walker, who was acquired for a seventh-round pick and who, Thursday, scored two third-period goals to beat the Lightning.

Both players make more than $2 million, but prorated over the last quarter of the season, the extra salary would have been manageable. Lawton said new owner Jeff Vinik gave him the okay to add payroll, even for a rental, which is what Staios, a potential unrestricted free agent, likely would have been.

You don't like Staios or Walker? Fine. The point is the market seemed to have room to maneuver.

Who knows? Perhaps Purcell, acquired from the Kings for center Jeff Halpern, is the "diamond in the rough" Lawton said he is. Maybe the extra third-round pick that came in the deal will bring a future Hall of Famer. Maybe defenseman Paul Ranger, out since October for personal reasons, is about to return.

Meanwhile, a team that needed an upgrade for a playoff run can say only that the future is brighter and it didn't lose Halpern, a potential unrestricted free agent, for nothing.

Lack of trade-deadline moves by Tampa Bay Lightning puzzling 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 11:02pm]
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