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Defensive help comes at price

Brad Lukowich could not keep the smile off his face.

The Lightning defenseman had myriad reasons his buddy Darryl Sydor is a good fit for Tampa Bay. This one he liked best.

"He's a rocker," Lukowich said. "He's like me."

In other words, and with apologies to Spinal Tap, the volume on the stereo system in the Lightning locker room is going to 11.

But that is just window dressing.

Tampa Bay finally on Tuesday got the top-four defenseman it has sought for two years. But it came with a price as Alexander Svitov, the No. 3 overall pick in 2001, and a third-round pick in this year's draft were sent to the Blue Jackets for Sydor and a fourth-round pick.

General manager Jay Feaster said he didn't want to trade core roster players, and Svitov, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound Russian center, was a healthy scratch six times since his recall from AHL Hamilton.

Feaster said that outweighed concerns about losing a possible piece of the future. Not to mention that Sydor, 31, can play the point on the power play and has played 912 regular-season games and 116 in the playoffs.

He also played in three Stanley Cup finals (one with the Kings, two with the Stars), winning in 1998-99 with Dallas.

"For us, it's about solidifying this franchise and solidifying our situation as a perennial playoff team," Feaster said. "In the league right now, you don't get players if you don't move players, and for us to land a top-four defenseman this was the only way to get a deal done."

Feaster acknowledged Svitov "is going to play for the next 10 or 15 years."

But Svitov's development has been hampered by a lack of intensity. And with Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards on the top two lines, Feaster said Svitov, 21, was destined for the third.

"So in terms of a third-line center for a top-four defenseman, it was a move we were prepared to do," Feaster said.

Svitov said through Lightning wing Ruslan Fedotenko, who translated, that he is looking forward to "getting a shot there and taking advantage of that."

The move also significantly jacks up the Lightning's payroll. Sydor will make $3.5-million this season compared to Svitov's $1.13-million.

The upside is that Sydor, 6-1, 205 pounds, is under contract for three more years with salaries of $3.2-million and two at $2.8-million.

Sydor also is thrilled to be with Tampa Bay after a season with an injury-depleted team; he has two goals, 13 assists and is minus-19. In seven previous full seasons with the Stars, Sydor averaged 8.6 goals and 33.1 assists.

"I feel like I'm young again," said Sydor, who could play Thursday against the Penguins at the St. Pete Times Forum. "It's a new chapter. The team is a contender. I'm looking forward to helping any way I can."

Sydor said he is confident he can fit into a close-knit locker room.

"I'm going to come in as Darryl Sydor and do what I do and everything will take care of itself," he said. "The team is going good. I'm going to be another link in the chain."

Tampa Bay's aggressive, forecheck-heavy system, which Sydor likes, should help. As should Lukowich, who played with Sydor in Dallas and WHL Kamloops and can act as ice-breaker.

The two were roommates with the Stars and Sydor was part of Lukowich's wedding party.

Oh, and, "He's one of those guys who uses music for motivation," Lukowich said.

Loud music?

"I'm not that bad," Sydor said. "That's one thing I didn't groom him (for) that well."

DARRYL SYDOR BIO

BORN: May 13, 1972.

HOMETOWN: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

HT./WT.: 6 feet 1, 211 pounds.

DRAFTED: First round, seventh overall, by the Kings in 1990.

MORE: Sydor is in his 13th NHL season. He spent his first 4{ with the Kings before being traded to the Stars in 1996. He spent 7{ in Dallas, then was traded to the Blue Jackets this season for Mike Sillinger and a second-round pick in the 2004 draft. Set career highs in goals (14), power-play goals (nine), power-play assists (26) and shooting percentage (.086) and tied his career high in points (48) with the Stars in 1998-99. That season he was second among Stars defenseman in playoff scoring with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) to help Dallas win the Stanley Cup. Had a goal and six assists in the 2000 playoffs, in which the Stars lost to the Devils in a six-game Cup final. A two-time All-Star (1998 and '99).

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