Uncertainty looms over Tampa Bay Lightning contract talks with Teddy Purcell

BRANDON — There was optimism recently that the Lightning and RW Teddy Purcell could reach a contract agreement before their arbitration hearing.

But with the hearing July 20 in Toronto (the first day hearings will take place) and the sides not together on the money, perhaps there isn't time to reach a deal.

"It's a possibility," Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman said Tuesday of going to arbitration. "It doesn't mean we can't get something done a day from now, or even the 19th, if we have to."

Purcell's agent, Kent Hughes, was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. It isn't clear what salary the Lightning is offering and what Purcell is asking.

But there is this: Yzerman would not say he would accept whatever salary an arbitrator awards. Teams can walk away from an award, a move that makes the player an unrestricted free agent.

"I don't go that far just because we think there's a range in arbitration, and Kent thinks there's a different range," Yzerman said. "What the arbitrator will rule, neither of us really knows, so to say absolutely what we will do in the event of it, we can't say with 100 percent certainty."

Purcell, 25, who made $750,000 last season, had a breakout year with career highs of 17 goals, 34 assists and 51 points. He also had five goals and 17 points in 18 playoff games.

GRAND FINALE: Prospect development camp finished at the Ice Sports Forum with C Vladislav Namestnikov confirming his value and RW Brett Connolly earning kudos for improvement.

Namestnikov, 18, drafted 27th overall in June, "is still a young guy, and he still has to fill out, but we think we have a good prospect," Yzerman said. "He's a very smart player. He's a very creative player. We're happy with him."

Connolly, 19, drafted No. 6 overall in 2010, was under orders the past year to muscle up. "He's stronger," Yzerman said. "He's got more quickness. He's going in a positive direction."

"Beyond that," said Al Murray, Tampa Bay's director of amateur scouting, "he does things with the puck elite players do and others wish they could."

SCARY MOMENT: C Philip-Michael Devos, a camp invitee, escaped serious injury during a three-on-three game when the skate blade of RW Seth Griffith caught him under the chin and on the left side of his neck.

"I was a little nervous," Devos said. "I put my hand on my neck and saw blood."

The incident occurred as Griffith drove to the net. He stumbled over Devos' stick, and his left foot came up and clipped Devos, who did not even need stitches.

"They said my beard helped me on that one," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Tyler Johnson's goal with 1:10 remaining gave his three-on-three team, which included Namestnikov, Mark Barberio and Jeff Dimmen, the camp title. … The Panthers' prospects camp, which includes the Lightning and Predators, is Sept. 9-14 at Saveology Iceplex in Coral Springs.

Around the league

Coyotes: Former Thrashers head coach John Anderson was hired as an assistant. Anderson was fired by Atlanta in April 2010 after going 70-75-19 over two seasons.

Devils: New Jersey, the only team without a coach, will have one "in the very near future, but not this week," GM Lou Lamoriello said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Uncertainty looms over Tampa Bay Lightning contract talks with Teddy Purcell 07/12/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:22am]

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