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Team contacts defenseman

The Lightning has made at least preliminary contact with unrestricted free-agent defenseman Greg de Vries.

It is difficult to gauge the team's interest because neither general manager Jay Feaster nor de Vries' agent, Pat Morris, are talking. But Tampa Bay left wing Chris Dingman said Thursday that de Vries, who has played for the Avalanche since 1998, inquired of him last weekend "if (Tampa) was a good place to play."

The conversation occurred in Rochester, Minn., during a golf fundraiser for the Shjon Podein Children's Foundation.

"He said he didn't know where he was going," said Dingman, who roomed with de Vries for two seasons in Colorado. "He was just kind of asking around."

De Vries, 30, was the Avalanche's No. 3 defenseman last season behind Rob Blake and Adam Foote. The 6-foot-2, 211-pounder had six goals, 26 assists and 70 penalty minutes in 82 games. He was plus-15 and averaged 22:15 of ice time.

And Dingman said he can fight.

"He had a fight with Donald Brashear three or four years ago and went toe-to-toe with him for about a minute. Not many guys can do that," Dingman said.

The cost could be high. It is believed de Vries, who made $1.375-million last season, is looking for a four-year deal at about $3.5-million a season.

Dingman said de Vries would be a good fit.

"Definitely," Dingman said. "Especially the way he's developed the last couple of years. My first year in Denver (1999-2000), he was a pretty good defenseman. The next year, when we won the Cup, he took a step to the next level. He's very strong defensively and he can play on the power play. He's one of the most well-rounded defensemen.

"He wouldn't hurt us by any stretch of the imagination. He can pretty much play in any situation. When the opportunity is there to get a guy like that, you do it."

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