Superstar center Vinny Lecavalier could not have been happier that the Lightning on Wednesday acquired the negotiating rights to Vinny Prospal.
"I'm definitely excited," he said. "We always played well together. He's a great guy and a great player."
Tampa Bay also hopes the left wing can help rebuild its depleted top lines. So the Lightning, which traded Prospal to the Flyers at the deadline for promising defenseman Alex Picard, used a seventh-round pick in this weekend's draft to get him back.
If Tampa Bay signs Prospal, who on July 1 can be an unrestricted free agent, the Flyers also get a fourth-round pick in 2009.
It might seem a high price for a team counting on the draft to help restore a depleted farm system. But the Lightning had three seventh-rounders this year and two fourth-rounders in 2009, one from the Brad Richards trade.
"So if you're going to take a chance and swing from your heels, this is the time to do it," general manager Jay Feaster said.
Prospal, 33, a Czech native, is in Europe and could not be reached, but agent Ritch Winter seemed confident something could be done to begin Prospal's third stint with the Lightning.
"If you're Vinny Prospal and you like Tampa Bay, how can you not be excited about this?" Winter said. "We're looking forward to having some dialogue."
Prospal, playing with Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, had his greatest success with the Lightning. Of last season's 33 goals and 71 points, 29 and 57, respectively, came with Tampa Bay. He had a career-high 80 points in 2005-06.
Feaster said part of the impetus for the trade might have been a conversation last season between Lecavalier and prospective new owner Oren Koules.
"They're cognizant of how Lecavalier feels about Prospal," Feaster said.
Lecavalier said he doesn't recall a specific conversation: "But I've never hidden the fact that I love playing with Vinny. Hopefully, we can keep playing together for a long time."
LOISELLE CONTRACT: Claude Loiselle, GM of AHL Norfolk, got an extension through 2008-09.