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Ownership could open purse strings, CEO says

Does general manager Jay Feaster have the go-ahead to make a trade that will add significantly to the team's payroll?

Such a move would have to be approved by owner Bill Davidson and CEO Tom Wilson, but Wilson said Thursday that Feaster should take his best shot.

"If Jay came to us today with something that was a drop-dead deal that you've got to do, we probably wouldn't even wait," Wilson said. "That's the message (Davidson) gave Jay. Go out there and do your homework and come up with what you think makes a lot of sense. And then let's talk about it.

"So the door is open to do some different things. That's what a little success can do for you."

How much is the organization willing to add to a $28.1-million payroll that is $10-million below last season's league average?

"I'm not going to tell you it's $1-million. I'm not going to tell you it's $5-million. I'm not going to tell you it's $7-million," Wilson said. "Tell me what it means to us today. Tell me what it means to us next year and what are the consequences and the upside of doing this."

Feaster, who met with Davidson and Wilson before Thursday's game, declined to comment.

"Come to me with any idea that you have," Wilson said of the message Davidson relayed to the general manager.

"I'm not going to spend $5-million on a crap shoot. But if you and (coach John Tortorella) and (associate coach Craig Ramsay) think this is the way to go, this is going to make a consequential difference in this team, I'm not afraid to spend some money."

NEXT IN?: Tortorella said he will not rush Brian Holzinger into the lineup. The center broke his leg during a pickup game before training camp. He was cleared to play last weekend.

"Brian is going to wait his turn," the coach said. "The team is playing well, and we're not going to force-feed him."

The same goes for defenseman Pavel Kubina, a healthy scratch for the third time in five games.

"We have a situation where we have seven defensemen who can play," Tortorella said. "The coaching staff hasn't settled on a top six. And for Kuby to get back in, he has to play to the standard we expect out of him.

"We feel that has been very inconsistent right now."

ODDS AND ENDS: After the game, goalie Kevin Hodson, out with a strained groin, was activated from injured reserve. Evgeny Konstantinov was sent to AHL Springfield. Left wing Chris Dingman played after being a healthy scratch for 11 consecutive games. Wing Ruslan Fedotenko sat out because of a strained left shoulder suffered Wednesday during practice while taking a shot. Left wing Fredrik Modin (ribs) also was out.

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

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