Lightning locks up Laukkanen

Published Aug. 9, 2003|Updated Sept. 1, 2005

With the likelihood of obtaining a marquee free agent remote or nonexistent, the Lightning on Friday re-signed 33-year-old free agent Janne Laukkanen to add versatility on defense.

Claimed off waivers from the Rangers on March 11, Laukkanen scored a goal in two regular season games for the Lightning, then replaced the injured Brad Lukowich in the final two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"I'm very pleased to be back here," Laukkanen said. "My memories here have been very positive."

Laukkanen's one-year deal will pay a base of $600,000. Team and individual incentives could increase the value to $1.2-million.

Laukkanen played much of last season with an arthritic left hip. The injury was initially considered career-threatening, but Laukkanen said consultation with doctors in his native Finland led to a successful procedure to "clean up" the hip eight weeks ago. The hip is sore, and Laukkanen said he has been skating for a week.

When healthy, Laukkanen is the sharp-skating, puck-handling defenseman the Lightning wants on the power play. He has 20 or more points in three of his nine seasons, most recently 20 with Pittsburgh in 2000-01.

"I think he's a guy, when he's healthy, who can play anywhere from the second-through-sixth defenseman," general manager Jay Feaster said. "He provides us with a lot of flexibility. He moves the puck and can carry it out. He's not afraid of physical play, and he's very smart and sound positionally."

OPEN HOUSE: The Lightning will host an IceFest at the St. Pete Times Forum from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 16 featuring free lunch, the chance to meet Feaster and Lightning players, and hockey-themed activities.

COYOTES: Center Daymond Langkow, who took the most faceoffs in the league last season, was awarded a one-year, $2.7-million contract in salary arbitration.

DEVILS: Defenseman Paul Martin from the University of Minnesota signed and was invited to training camp.

RED WINGS: Dominik Hasek will not be charged for hurting a player during an inline hockey game. There was no evidence Hasek caused bodily harm to Martin Sila in May, the prosecutor said.

SABRES: Forwards Ales Kotalik and Curtis Brown re-signed. Kotalik agreed to a one-year deal plus a team option. Brown signed a one-year contract worth $1.6-million.

_ Times staff writers Brant James and Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.