Is the Lightning considering trading Nikolai Khabibulin, the goaltender whose negotiating rights it recently acquired from the Coyotes?
General manager Rick Dudley said no.
"Don't hold me to this," Dudley said, "but we have no intention of trading him."
The question became significant Thursday because of an item in the Bergen Record in New Jersey.
According to the newspaper, Rangers general manager Glen Sather said Khabibulin's agent, Jay Grossman, called to ask if he would be interested in trading for the goaltender, who is sitting out his second consecutive NHL season because of a contract dispute.
Though the trade deadline was Tuesday, deals can still be made. But traded players who are restricted free agents, like Khabibulin, are not eligible for the playoffs. Dudley said he got no calls Tuesday concerning Khabibulin.
The story also said contract negotiations between the Lightning and Grossman were going so badly, the agent and the team had hardly spoken.
Grossman, who has agreed with the Lightning not to speak about the negotiations, declined to comment. But Dudley said of the report, "That is categorically not true. It's going. It's a process."
Sather said he will not call Dudley. "The thing you do is wait until they call you," he said. "Then you know they can't sign him."
_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO