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Lightning Acquire Rights to Vaclav Prospal

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired the rights to forward Vaclav Prospal in exchange for Nashville’s seventh-round pick (previously acquired), 196th overall, in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced today. Should the Lightning sign Prospal this summer, Philadelphia will also receive a fourth-round pick in 2009.

"After assessing the pending free agent market and receiving a great deal of input from our prospective new owners, the decision was made to attempt to pursue Vinny Prospal for a return engagement to Tampa,” Feaster said. “While we realize some of the risks involved in this strategy we also know that Prospal and [Vincent] Lecavalier have a very special chemistry together and getting Vinny back in the fold early would enable us to focus our time, attention and resources on other critical areas this summer while leaving our successful top line virtually in tact. At the end of the day, we felt that reacquiring Vinny now and attempting to negotiate a contract with him sooner rather than later was in the best interests of the organization."

Prospal, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound native of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, played in 62 games with the Lightning last season and recorded 29 goals with 57 points. He was traded to Philadelphia on February 25, 2008 in exchange for Alexandre Picard. Through February 23, 2008 Prospal, Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis were the NHL’s second-highest scoring trio, as they accounted for 80 goals and 202 points.  Prospal netted a career-high 33 goals and also had 38 assists in 80 games with Tampa Bay and the Flyers in 2007-08.

After joining Philadelphia he recorded four goals and 14 points in 18 regular season games. He also helped Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference Finals and recorded three goals with 13 points in 17 playoff games.

The 33-year-old has played in 386 games in five seasons with the Lightning. He ranks sixth on the franchise goal list with 108, fourth in assists with 218 and tied for fifth in power play goals with 37. He has also played in 22 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Tampa Bay, recording five goals and eight points. Prospal will enter his 12th NHL season in 2008-09.

Should he sign with Tampa Bay, it will be Prospal’s third time joining the Lightning. He was originally acquired from Florida in exchange for Ryan Johnson and a sixth-round choice in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft on July 10, 2001. He became a free agent on July 1, 2003 and was then re-acquired from Anaheim in exchange for a second-round pick in 2005 on August 16, 2004.

Selected by Philadelphia in the third round (71st overall) at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Prospal played two seasons with MC Budejovice in the Czech Junior League before joining the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League in 1993-94 (named Hershey Rookie of the Year). In four AHL seasons with Hershey and the Philadelphia Phantoms, he recorded 74 goals and 226 points in 310 games, including a 32-goal, 95-point season with Philadelphia in 1996-97. Prospal played in the 1997 AHL All-Star Classic and was named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team that season.

Prospal made his NHL debut with the Flyers in 1996-97, recording 15 points in 18 regular-season games and four points in five Stanley Cup Playoff games before injury forced him to miss the remainder of the Playoffs. He was traded by Philadelphia to Ottawa on January 17, 1998, and was sent to Florida by the Senators on January 20, 2001.

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