Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton open to trading first-round draft pick

ATLANTA — With its 29th-place finish, the Lightning, depending on what happens in Tuesday's draft lottery, will be slotted to pick either second or third in the draft.

That doesn't mean Tampa Bay will use the pick. GM Brian Lawton said he will be open-minded about trading it.

"Between Tuesday and the draft, we're going to see a million things," Lawton said Saturday. "I'm very interested to see what comes our way. We'll evaluate everything on the merits of what it would do to the team short term and long term."

Because Lawton said he wants to build a foundation to support the club's future, he would not part with the pick easily or for something that provides "short-term gain for long-term pain."

"We're not going to trade the first pick for a 30-year-old defenseman," he said.

Taking Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman with the pick is not a bad plan, either. But as Lawton noted, "All I'm saying is there are lots of options. It's not the worst position in the world to have options, especially if you have a deep draft to back it up."

STAMKOS TO WORLDS? Nothing is finalized, and an announcement may not come until next week, but it appears rookie C Steven Stamkos could play for Canada in the world championship tournament April 24 to May 10 in Switzerland.

"It's going to be a great experience for him," coach Rick Tocchet said. "The learning curve and the maturation process just increases by him going. I think it's terrific."

"He obviously impressed a lot of people around the league," Lawton said.

Stamkos, 19, whose 23 goals are a team rookie record, said he has not heard anything official but being chosen would be "pretty special for me. The way things were going, I didn't think I'd get an opportunity. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to go over there and prove I can play at an elite level."

He would join teammate Marty St. Louis and get a foot in the door toward the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"Everyone would love to represent their country in the Olympics, and this would be a good start," Stamkos said.

TOCCHET CONTRACT: Tocchet said he has had no indication from the team that he will not be retained as coach.

"I haven't gotten any inkling of that," he said. "It's more forward in the other direction."

Lawton has said he will meet with Tocchet after the draft lottery to discuss taking the interim label off his title. Why has it taken so long?

"I just think there are a lot of things going on," Tocchet said.

And though he said he would like to see the issue resolved soon, "it's not like something has to be done tomorrow."

ODDS AND ENDS: D Kevin Quick's assist on Matt Pettinger's goal was his first NHL point. … G Mike McKenna turned 26. … D Lukas Krajicek (illness) was scratched. … D Josef Melichar (leg) played after missing three games. D Matt Lashoff (lower body) played after missing one. … LW Vinny Prospal finished without a point in seven games and stuck on 599 for his career. … The Thrashers are 10-1-1 vs. the Lightning the past two seasons. They are 5-0 in season finales, 4-0 at Atlanta, including the past three. … Tampa Bay (2-12-1 with a tie) has lost six straight closers.

fast facts

Draft lottery

What: Determine selection order for first 14 picks.

Who: Teams that didn't qualify for the playoffs, including the Lightning, or acquired the first-round picks of nonplayoff teams.

When: Tuesday in Toronto. Results announced at 8 p.m. on Versus and streamed live on NHL.com.

Draft: June 26-27, Montreal

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton open to trading first-round draft pick 04/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 12, 2009 7:45am]

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