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Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Brian Lawton hopes new arrivals prove their worth

First action: Victor Hed?man, June’s No. 2 overall pick, looked tentative at times but had an assist during the Young Guns camp scrimmage.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

First action: Victor Hed?man, June’s No. 2 overall pick, looked tentative at times but had an assist during the Young Guns camp scrimmage.

TAMPA — Lightning GM Brian Lawton admitted he went bargain hunting this month.

He signed G Antero Niittymaki for about $600,000 after he made $1.375 million last season. D Kurtis Foster signed for $600,000, a cut of $400,000, after playing just 10 games last season for the Wild while recovering from a broken left leg. Even LW Stephane Veilleux's $750,000 contract was about $110,000 less than he made in 2008-09.

"We were able to secure them at a little bit of a discount," Lawton said Saturday. "You always have risk involved with that, but it's a calculated risk."

The calculation is these players have something to prove and were willing to sign one-year deals at reduced rates to do so.

Okay, so Lawton probably had an in with these guys because his agency represented them before he became a GM. Beyond that, Niittymaki had three hip surgeries in the past 38 months. Foster must show his leg can sustain a full season, and Veilleux, after contract disputes with the Wild, eventually will seek a bigger deal.

"These guys all believe their value is higher, and they're going to do everything to prove it," Lawton said. "I think it will make for a higher performance on a nightly basis."

As for the "calculated risk," Lawton added, "I believe in the guys we signed, heavily. I think the fans will love them."

Welcome to Tampa: D Mattias Ohlund and D Matt Wal­ker were officially introduced, but owner Oren Koules had the most interesting line.

Calling their signings "Plan A," he admitted, "It was kind of a risky proposition because we didn't really have a Plan B."

Young Guns camp: Alexander Killorn had two goals and Luke Witkowski and Matt Marshall each had a goal and an assist as the Black earned a 5-2 win over the White in front of 4,717 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Killorn and Juraj Simek tied in the hardest shot contest at 91 mph.

"It was good to feel a buzz in the building again," Koules said.

Odds and ends: F Kyle De Coste is not cleared for contact because of a pre-existing shoulder injury. … The Times Forum will have an open skate from 3 to 5 p.m. today. Admission is free. Bring your own skates.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Brian Lawton hopes new arrivals prove their worth 07/11/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 11, 2009 10:24pm]
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