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Lightning's all talk, no trade

The NHL's trade deadline is 3 p.m. today, and all Lightning general manager Jay Feaster has to show for it so far is an increased phone bill.

In a silver-lining sort of way, that is not all bad.

"The good news is that for the first time since I've been here, as the deadline approaches, teams are not calling here looking to raid this franchise," Feaster said. "We're making the phone calls. It's not ringing in as much as we're calling out, and that's a positive first step."

The bad news is the Kings signed defenseman Aaron Miller to a four-year contract extension and took him off the block, depriving the Lightning of one of its coveted trade targets.

Beyond that, Tampa Bay finds that wanting to trade for either a top-four defenseman or a defenseman to bolster depth and guard against injuries is different from getting one done.

From a lack of organizational depth, which limits who can be offered in trade, to a lack of playoff history, Tampa Bay is fighting more than other teams when it comes to making a deal.

"I don't know if it's frustrating so much that we recognize those are the kinds of things we battle," Feaster said.

Because Feaster does not want to mess up the chemistry of a team that is 8-2-3 in its past 13 games and on track for its first playoff berth since 1996, he said he will not trade anyone off the roster.

He also will not trade the team's top prospects because he does not want to expose the Lightning to a long-term downside for a short-term bounce. That is especially critical if the player acquired is a potential unrestricted free agent who may sign elsewhere over the summer.

That leaves lower-tiered prospects and draft choices. And while that could be enough to equal another team's trade offer, it is not always enough to sway the player the Lightning wants to acquire.

Glen Wesley is a case in point. The defenseman would not waive his no-trade clause for a move to Tampa Bay, so the Hurricanes sent him to Toronto.

"When you've made the playoffs once in 10 years, you're not going to be a destination for veteran guys who want to win the Cup," Feaster said. "That's why it's important we make the playoffs and are a perennial playoff team."

So where does the Lightning stand?

Feaster said he has made some offers, and players believed to be on the radar are Buffalo's Alexei Zhitnik, Los Angeles' Mathieu Schneider and Chicago's Phil Housley.

But with Wesley and Miller, Feaster's most-desired targets, off the table, it is a good bet he will add depth instead of a top-four player. It might be the best call.

"If we don't do a deal, for the next 26 days and into the playoffs, you're going to have to go to daily mass and light a candle for the health of our blue line," Feaster said.

The Lightning has eight defensemen on the roster, including Jassen Cullimore, who has been out since early December shoulder surgery.

Feaster would be more comfortable going 10-deep, but the next usable body is Kristian Kudroc, 21, who is with AHL Springfield but missed a substantial part of the season with a concussion.

Feaster said he easily could add a player to alleviate the depth problem, but, "We're not willing to overpay for depth." Which brings up the possibility Tampa Bay could stand pat.

"I like this group of guys," he said. "It's a group of guys when you add Jassen Cullimore to the mix, it's a very good group of eight, and they deserve an opportunity to finish it out."

That is fine with the players.

"This is the group that has gotten us from October to this point," right wing Ben Clymer said. "It's nice to know they trust us to carry this forward."

CHARITY GOLF: The Lightning held its annual golf outing at Lake Jovita. Spokesman Bill Wickett said about $75,000 was raised for the Moffitt Cancer Center.

OLVESTAD RETURNS: Right wing Jimmie Olvestad returned from a two-week conditioning assignment to Springfield.

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