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NHL apparently letting Tampa Bay Lightning co-owners solicit investors separately

MONTREAL — Lightning co-owner Len Barrie apparently did nothing wrong when he solicited investors because the league was aware. Co-owner Oren Koules is believed authorized to do the same.

Given their contentious relationship, it is logical each wants to deal with his own investors.

The Hockey News reported Barrie's solicitation, citing a May 5 memo that asked potential investors to deal only with him or executive VP Brian Rogers, Barrie's man at the St. Pete Times Forum. Barrie revealed an investor search May 7, when he said, "If we put ourselves in a non-debt situation, what we're paying now in interest and fees can go into getting players instead of to the banks."

That the owners have the league's permission is important. "So we can properly vet (the process)," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said. If any owner tried to go behind the league's back, Brown said, the consequences could be "significant."

LATE TRADE: The Lightning worked hard for a chance to select forward Carter Ashton, beginning, GM Brian Lawton estimated, when the draft was at pick No. 17. Lawton finally prevailed, trading picks Nos. 32 and 75 to the Red Wings as they prepared for pick 29.

"We had him 11th on our list," Lawton said, "and when you have a guy that high and he's still available, we'll see how good our scouts are. I have a lot of faith. The guys were excited about him the whole way."

Ashton's father, Brent, a center who had 284 goals in 998 NHL games, played with Lawton for the North Stars. "That," said Carter, 18, who had 30 goals and 93 penalty minutes in 70 games for WHL Lethbridge, "is kind of a cool connection."

"The apple doesn't fall too far from the trees with this young man," Lawton said. "We think he can be a real power forward."

Trade talk: Lawton said he tried to move one player all night, "but it would not have been one of our elite players." He said he got no phone calls about Vinny Lecavalier.

KRAJICEK CLOSE TO DEAL: D Lukas Krajicek is close to signing a one-year deal, the team said. Krajicek, 26, had two goals and 17 assists in 71 games, and was said to need more grit. He made $1.1 million last season.

SALARY CAP: The league announced next season's salary cap will be $56.8 million, up $100,000. The minimum payroll will be $40.8 million.

GOODBYE, KARRI: G Karri Ramo was offered a one-way contract before he signed to be the No. 1 with Russia's Avangard Omsk, Lawton said:

"Extremely disappointed he won't be with us next season. I think he's ready to take the next step."

But Ramo, 22, will make more money with Omsk and will play more than as backup to Mike Smith.

Lawton acknowledged he likely will sign a backup through free agency (Robert Esche, perhaps?) because neither Riku Helenius nor Mike McKenna is ready for the role, and junior-leaguer Dustin Tokarski "has to go through the process."

NHL apparently letting Tampa Bay Lightning co-owners solicit investors separately 06/26/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 6:28am]
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