Lightning Get Goalie Denis From Columbus

The Associated Press
Friday, June 30, 2006; 8:17 PM

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning addressed their goaltending concerns Friday by obtaining goalie Marc Denis from the Columbus Blue Jackets for left wing Fredrik Modin and goalie Fredrik Norrena.

John Grahame and Sean Burke, who Tampa Bay turned to after 2004 Stanley Cup champion goalie Nikolai Khabibulin signed with Chicago, struggled throughout the season and aren't expected to return. The Lightning finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and were eliminated in five games by Ottawa in the opening playoff round.

"Marc Denis is a proven No. 1 goaltender," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "He is a workhorse and a fierce competitor. We have scouted Marc extensively and had actually targeted him as early as the trade deadline this past season. We are confident Marc will bring us the type of reliable and consistent goaltending we need in order to return our franchise to the type of success we have enjoyed in the past."

Denis, 28, has a career record of 94-156-28 with a 2.97 goals-against average. He was 21-25-1 last season, including 17-6-1 when the Blue Jackets scored at least three goals.

Modin had 31 goals and 23 assists last season for Tampa Bay. He has won a Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold during his career.

"He's a big, talented top-6 forward," Columbus general manager Doug MacLean said.

The Blue Jackets scored only 223 goals last season, ranking 12th out of 15 teams in the West. Columbus, at 35-43-4, had the conference's third-worst record.

The trade also clears the way for Pascal Leclaire (11-15-3, 3.23 GAA) to take over as the No. 1 goalie in Columbus.

"Marc is an outstanding goaltender and has been an integral part of our organization," MacLean said. "This was not an easy trade to make. But we feel like Pascal Leclaire is ready to take the next step."

Dmitry Afanasenkov could be given a chance to take Modin's top-line spot with the Lightning. He had nine goals and 15 points in 68 games.

"The most difficult part of this deal is having to include Fredrik Modin, a player who helped this franchise establish credibility," Feaster said. "As thrilled as we are to be adding Marc Denis to our organization, it is very tough to part with Big Mo."

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