TAMPA — Finally, some clarity regarding Marek Malik.
Vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said Wednesday the defenseman has not signed a contract. But the sides have a "tentative agreement" — believed to be one year for between $1-million and $1.2-million — that will be finalized when the free agent can play.
"He says he's been skating," Lawton said. "You want to verify those things and make sure he's 100 percent healthy. Then he has to get in game shape. Before he signs a contract, he has to be in game shape."
Lawton said it is "possible" Malik could suit up for the game Oct. 25 with the Sharks at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The soonest he could play is Tuesday against the Thrashers but only if, as Lawton said, the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder "is in the greatest shape ever and can play immediately."
Lawton said Malik, 33, will arrive in Tampa from his native Czech Republic late this afternoon and have a physical.
He likely will skate with the team Friday. The collective bargaining agreement says it is a player's choice to skate before signing a contract.
Lawton said Malik, a 12-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Rangers, has been on Tampa Bay's radar since the summer.
"Finally, something got worked out that we can all be in agreement with if everything is as advertised," Lawton said.
CENTURY MARK: LW Mark Recchi plays his 100th game against the Islanders tonight, the most of any active player. He also has 100 games against the Rangers.
As for any long-term sense of familiarity, Recchi, 40, said, "There's so much change the past few years, you have different lineups, different systems, so no. You just know it's game 1,400-something in there."
It is Recchi's 1,414th game.
SLEEP DEPRIVED: D Lukas Krajicek said the game should be "night and day" from his first with Tampa Bay, Saturday against the Hurricanes.
Krajicek, acquired from the Canucks in the Shane O'Brien deal, flew from Toronto to Tampa the day of that game. He flew from Vancouver to Toronto the night before, landed at midnight, got to his hotel at 1 a.m. and was up at 7 for his "packed" southbound flight.
Worse, Krajicek, who said he always has trouble sleeping on planes, was stuck in coach.
"Just sleepy and tired and your legs are kind of stiff," he said. "The worst thing is mentally. That's the toughest way to prepare for a game."
CLOSE CALL: LW Ryan Malone, who does not wear a visor, took an accidental stick blade near his left eye from teammate Evgeny Artyukhin during Wednesday's practice. No stitches, Malone said, but plenty of blood from cuts above and next to the eye.
"Part of the game," Malone said.
"I don't mind them; usually try to get a couple of scars and black eyes early in the year — get the feeling back."
ODDS AND ENDS: Olaf Kolzig will start in goal. … Tampa Bay entered Wednesday second in the league with a 56.4 percent faceoff winning percentage.