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Tampa Bay Lightning signs defenseman Kurtis Foster

New guys: Right wing Carter Ashton, left, and defenseman Victor Hedman, the Lightning’s first-round picks last month, were introduced to fans and the media by co-owner Oren Koules.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

New guys: Right wing Carter Ashton, left, and defenseman Victor Hedman, the Lightning’s first-round picks last month, were introduced to fans and the media by co-owner Oren Koules.

TAMPA — You might remember Kurtis Foster from the gruesome incident in which, as a member of the Wild, his left leg snapped when run from behind into the end boards by San Jose's Torrey Mitchell.

The Lightning hopes the defenseman, who played just 10 games last season after healing from the March 2008 injury, is ready to regain his form and signed him Wednesday to a one-year deal for about $600,000.

"He wants to establish himself," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "He has a carrot in front of him. It's nice to have those players."

Foster, 27, had a goal and six points for Minnesota last season, was plus-7 and averaged 13:35 of ice time. Taken 40th overall by Calgary in 2000, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder led all Wild defensemen with 10 goals and 28 points as a rookie in 2005-06. He has 21 goals, 77 points and 155 penalty minutes in 186 games.

"Big shot," Tocchet said. "And he's a lot better defenseman than people give him credit for."

The move seems to round out a revamped blue line that also includes rookie Victor Hedman, Mattias Ohlund, Matt Walker, Andrej Meszaros and Paul Ranger. Lukas Krajicek also is signed, but with a $1.5 million contract, he could be trade bait

Matt Smaby, Mike Lundin and Matt Lashoff are unsigned.

GOALIE COMING: GM Brian Lawton said he made an offer to a goaltender and could know by today if it is accepted. Lawton declined to reveal the player who would back up Mike Smith.

ASSISTANT COACH SEARCH: Stars associate coach Rick Wilson, who ran their defense during games, might be in the mix.

WELCOME TO TAMPA: Lost in the news was the introduction at the St. Pete Times Forum of Hedman and right wing Carter Ashton, the team's first-round picks. Hedman, taken No. 2 overall, said he will wear No. 77 because he grew up idolizing ex-NHL defenseman Ray Bourque. Ashton, taken 29th, said he has not yet picked a number.

YOUNG GUNS: The camp begins at 9 a.m. today at the Times Forum, ends Wednesday and features a scrimmage and skills competition at 7 p.m Saturday. Practices begin at 9 a.m. (except 8 a.m. Wednesday) and are free and open to the public, as is Satur­day's scrimmage.

Barrie closing in on selling resort

Lightning co-owner Len Barrie could soon announce an agreement to sell his Bear Mountain Resort for an estimated $350 million to a Saudi Arabian investment group.

"It's still not done," said Barrie, recently in London negotiating the deal. "But the CEO has given me assurances it will be done."

Barrie said the deal with Siraj Capital could close by the first week of October.

It is unclear how the sale of the Victoria, British Columbia, property would affect Barrie's squabbles with co-owner Oren Koules. At the least, it would give Barrie liquidity as he tries to settle the financial issues that helped cause NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to call the owners to his New York offices, where they got instructions to settle their differences.

There are not many options. There could be an accommodation between the two, new investors could be added, or one could buy out the other.

Tampa Bay Lightning signs defenseman Kurtis Foster 07/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 6:42am]
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