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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman in interesting spot as trade deadline nears

Steve Yzerman is in an interesting position heading into the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

Does the Lightning general manager play it safe and tinker around the edges to add depth to a team exceeding expectations?

Or with Tampa Bay challenging for the regular-season championship, does he add another bold move to the acquisition of goaltender Dwayne Roloson and make a serious run for the Stanley Cup?

It is a tricky equation given that the team's needs — a power-play quarterback and a solid defenseman to face opponents' top lines — generally are expensive.

Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, called up Saturday from AHL Norfolk, does not count. He is a power-play specialist with a huge shot, but he is not a quarterback, and he is defensively challenged.

So, what is the thought process?

Yzerman has said he will not trade his first-, second- or third-round draft choices in 2011 and 2012, though don't be surprised if he relents on a third-round choice if he can add depth.

He has no interest in trading for players who have fat contracts with several years attached, meaning fans of Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr, one of this year's hottest commodities, probably can stand down.

He also probably will shy away from players who this summer will be high-priced free agents and too expensive to sign, meaning fans of Toronto's Tomas Kaberle and Ottawa's Chris Phillips might look elsewhere.

That said, let's assume Yzerman decides his team is playing so well that he cannot ignore the possibility of a Cup run and must add another significant piece.

The model might be a player such as Maple Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin. The 30-year-old, at 6 feet, 213 pounds, has size. And though he is not overly physical, with 16 penalty minutes in 51 games entering Saturday, he is not soft and averaged 23:44 of ice time, mostly against top lines.

His contract, which pays $3.65 million next season, also is reasonable, and struggling Toronto should be a seller at the deadline.

The question is, will Yzerman be a buyer?

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman in interesting spot as trade deadline nears 02/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 9:33pm]
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