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Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster Responds To Your Lightning Hockey Questions

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Summer is always a busy time for Jay Feaster, and this year has been no exception. In addition to tending to the Lightning’s future at the NHL Entry Draft in Columbus as well as molding next year’s lineup in Tampa Bay through trades and signings, Feaster and his staff have been filling out the rosters of the Lightning’s new minor league affiliates in Norfolk (AHL) and Mississippi (ECHL). Feaster recently took the time address many of the issues surrounding the Lightning organization for and Lightning Fans.


Executive Vice President And General Manager Jay Feaster
Question 1:
Do you miss Williamstown?

Jay Feaster: Williamstown is my home. That's who and what I am. I do miss it. My Grandma and one of my uncles still live there and I enjoy it when I can get home to see them. I also have a lot of high school friends back there and I enjoy seeing them.

Question 2: Well Mr. Feaster, although I do live in Boston for the most part i do usually come down to the TB area a couple times a year seeing how my mother lives in Newport Ritchie. Anywho, my question for you is:  How big of a surprise was it to you when Michel Ouellet became a UFA, and did you immediately make him your #1 priority or was he a backup plan to someone else??

JF: We were surprised and yet, given some of our internal discussions regarding whether to tender Qualifying Offers to certain of our own players due to the potential arb cases they had against us, we were not "shocked" that Pittsburgh decided not to go through that process. Once we saw he was UFA we did "target" him as a good fit with Brad Richards and someone who we could make fit within our overall budget.

Question 3
: You drafted Alexander Killorn.  What were his strengths
and what are you looking for him to improve on?

JF: He is a very smart hockey player with very good skills. We believe he has great offensive hockey sense and we like his work ethic. As with all players, he needs to get stronger and he must continue to work on his skating. We also wish, in all honesty, that he were going to be in a more "hockey first" environment such as playing in the CHL rather than playing at Harvard. Nonetheless, we believe he has the potential to develop into a real player.

Question 4: During the 2003-04 season I watched Fedotenko with awe. He was by far my
favorite player and I am not the only one who thinks so highly of him. I understand he had a rough season this year, but I was wondering: If he had not been signed by the islanders or whoever else, and wanted to stay here, would you have offered him another contract? Also, could you see re-acquiring him in the future like luk or roy to bring back a Tampa Bay

JF: You have to remember that I love Feds! No one took more heat and received more criticism in the history of the game than I did for my Draft Day trade to acquire him. That trade and the other player we acquired as part of it, (Brad Lukowich), helped us win back-to-back Division titles and a Stanley Cup. No one loves Feds more than I do. However, this season was very difficult for him and I can tell you that when we had our exit meeting he indicated that he felt it was "time to move on." Given his mental state I would not have pursued him in Free Agency this year. I think once the player gets it in his mind to move on it really is time. In terms of his coming back, I truly cannot comment on that one way or the other. He is the property of another NHL team and we wish him well. As an incredibly important part of our 2004 Stanley Cup team he will ALWAYS be a member of the Lightning family.

Question 5: Are you gonna try to trade players to free up some free agency cap room?

JF: Not really an issue of "cap" space. We are working now under our own internal budget...EXACTLY the way we did it BEFORE the new "cap" world. If we could generate sufficient revenue to support a $50m payroll, Mr. Davidson would green light us. Unfortunately, as it is, we generate sufficient revenue only to support a $35m payroll, which is what this year's "floor" is in the new cap world. Fortunately for us, Mr. Davidson annually absorbs the losses and allows us to spend $39m two years ago and $44m last year and this year, even though he realizes it will mean significant financial losses for us.

Question 6: Is there any chance of trying to sign Alexei Yashin?

JF: No.

Question 7
: I'm not sure if this happened because it was popping up on, but did the salary cap rise to $49million or was that just gossip online?

JF: The new "Upper Limit" on the NHL Salary Cap for the 2007-08 season is $50,300,000.

Question 8
: With Tim Taylor's future uncertain, what do you plan to do about the captain situation. I personally feel either Brad Richards or Marty deserve it the most?

JF: Again...three guys (Vinny, Brad and Marty) will wear an "A" this year. Tim's contract expires at the end of the season. We will address the Captaincy beyond this season during the summer of 2008.

Question 9: Do you think that there is any way that the Lightning would be able to sign a veteren like Sandis Ozolinsh, Ric Jackman, Patrick Stefan, Martin Gelinas, or Petr Nedved? Thank You and Good Luck this year.

JF: Some of the players you mentioned are not players we would consider for a number of reasons. While one or two may be, we pretty much set with our group right now pending what happens in Training Camp.

Question 10: You have signed an awful lot of defensemen. I realize that some of them will probably end up playing in Norfolk. For sure there will be alot of new faces on the blueline this season. How many openings are on the defence right now and how many will be competing for those positions?

JF: Barring something unforeseen we are five legitimate NHL D'men deep going into Camp: Boyle and Ranger, Kuba and O'Brien and Lukowich. Competing for the 6th spot will be Jancevski, Leach, Lampman, Schneider, Smaby, Mihalik, and Janik (if Janik decides to accept our two-way offer). Depending upon whether any of these players play well enough to force us to keep a 7th D'man we could do that as well. You are right that we need D'men for Norfolk and we want and need quality D'men in our system.

Question 11: Why not make Vinny the capt. Taylor played last year like Corbin Bernstein in Major League. He is slow, will not hit, not a good passer or puck handler. He may win a few face offs. You could find 4 guys in your system that could take his place at 1/2 his salary and will contribute. Boy its a shame you and artukin(?) couldnt get it together the other team knew when he was on the ice, do we have a guy with his speed grit and size? Take some of the taylor money and up the offer.  Thanks.

JF: Sorry, but we're not paying Artyukhin $1m per year. Tim Taylor is a warrior and he's a damn good Captain. He will be having hip replacement surgery in August and will spend most of the rest of the year rehabbing. He will continue to be our Captain. Given that he won't be playing, we will have three guys wearing the "A" this year---Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis.  If Tayls is able to come back from the surgery, we will welcome him with open arms.  His current contract expires at the end of the 2007-08 season. Let's not forget that Tim Taylor was INSTRUMENTAL in helping our franchise win the 2004 Stanley Cup as a result of his incredible leadership. As long as I am GM we will have a place in this organization for Tayls.

Question 12: What do you think about Tim Taylor. Will he be returning to our system coming out of surgery? And Marc, are other teams trying to acquire him from us as well?

JF: I just answered the Taylor question and you should be able to see that answer. He will have surgery in August and rehab with us. He will be our Captain and while he's out of the line-up Vinny, Brad and Marty will wear an "A." If Tayls can come back from the surgery he will be welcomed with open arms. His current contract expires at the end of the 2007-08 season. We will work with Tim at the end of the season to keep him in the organization in some capacity as we believe he has a lot to offer. He's a warrior and a great leader.

Given that Marc finished a disappointing season by not dressing in the playoffs doesn't create much of a "market" and we all know that is the case. Marc will come to Camp with an opportunity to compete with Holmer and Ramo for the top two spots.

Question 13: Tim Taylor is obviously most beneficial for his veteran leadership on the bench and in the locker room, but it is no secret he is hurting physically. With the new rules increasing the speed of the game and his body taking many bruises, what will his role be next year? Is it time Taylor looks towards coaching and time for Vinny to step up, where the 'C', and become the new leader of the Tampa Bay Lightning especially coming off his record season?

JF: Please see my earlier responses to this very question about Tayls and the issue of the captaincy this season.

Question 14: Hey Jay it is Mike.. I am very happy that Luke is back with the team and also I am happy that Grats is back with the team to.. I want to ask you , what a you guys going to do with Ramo? Is he going to just go down to the minors or is he going to stay up here with the bolts? And do you think he will beat out Denis? And also how do you think Ouellet is going to fit
into our system and i know he played with Richards and is he going to get Richards back to where he was in the cup year? And also i am a full season ticket holder up in sec 315 row h .. So i cant want till the season starts.. Thanks again.

Some of these questions have already been answered, but...Ramo and Denis and Holmer will battle it out in Camp for two spots. Ouellet is going to be a great fit for us in our Top 6. He will also help our Power Play a great deal. We really do appreciate the support as a full season ticket holder and we look forward to providing you with some great hockey this season!

Question 15: I am so glad to see that we are getting Lukowich back. I am also sad to see Feds go, even though I know it was time for him to go. I am curious though, I know Corey Sarich is now a free agent, is he still in our budget or are we losing him as well?

By now I am sure you saw that Cory Sarich signed with Calgary for $3.6m per year for 5 years. I love Cory and he was instrumental in our winning the Cup in 2004. At the same time, he was playing as a 5th for us and it is impossible for us to have a 5th playing at anywhere near that kind of money.

Question 16: Is there any chance that you would ever let Mike Sullivan take over as the head coach and dump Tortorella? How about trading Dan Boyle to better team? He deserves better.

He deserves better than what? Better than being a Stanley Cup Champion in 2004? Better than being a 2nd team All-Star in 2007 playing within John Tortorella's system? Better than being treated in a first-class manner by a first-class organization? Better than playing with three of the very best players in the game in Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards? And you want to dump Tortorella, why? Because he has won two Division titles in the past five years he's coached the team? Because he has gotten his teams into the playoffs 4 consecutive years? Because he won a Stanley Cup with a team that none of the experts even gave a chance?

Question 17: We have Club Seats in Section 214 Row A and have been Lightning season ticket holders for as long as I can remember. Goalies win Stanley Cups in my opinion. I heard a rumor that there would be a deal...St. Louis for Nabakov...any truth to the rumor? And do you
honestly think that Holmer, Denis or Ramo are Stanley Cup caliber goalies? I think you're doing a great job as GM.

Thanks for your kind words. I agree that goalies win Stanley Cups. (Please see my earlier comments regarding Nik and goaltending.) In terms of whether any of our guys are Stanley Cup caliber, all I know is that BEFORE he arrived in Tampa, Nik Khabibulin had never won a Playoff Series. Not one. In 2002-03, his teammates and supporting cast enabled him to get credit for winning one against Washington. In the 2d round that year against New Jersey, we had to score 4 goals in each game except the elimination game (in which John Grahame played) in order to beat Brodeur. In 2004, Nik won the Stanley Cup...not alone, but with a lot of help from his mates. In the end it takes a "team" to win, but you need solid goaltending. We have an incredible core group of players in Tampa. We need a goalie to be steady, not spectacular. If you eliminate Game 1 this past season against Jersey, when Holmer played like a nervous Rookie, Holmer gave us every chance to win that series. We believe in the core of this team and we believe one (or two) of the goalies will emerge this season to give us a chance to win again. (As much as we like to rip our goaltending, let's not forget that we've used four different goalies the past two years and made the playoffs both years!) Thanks for the support and thank you for being such loyal season ticket holders!

Question 18: Jay-Now that Paul Ranger is signed, and with Ryan Craig soon to be also, the focus turns to the defense. I love the Lukowich signing, and see in today's Times that Jassen Cullimore would be interested in returning. Considering the anticipated cap on this year's payroll, how doable would that be? Is Nolan Pratt being resigned out of the question? And, would an UFA like David Tanabe be out of the question? Thanks for your time...

Please see my earlier responses to some of these questions. We haven't ruled-out signing either Cully or Pratt, but right now we are inclined to wait until we open Camp and take the players that we currently have and give them a chance to compete for a spot.

Question 19:
In both of the past two seasons following the lockout and the loss of Habibulin, the Lightning have had major issues finding a solid, consitent starting goaltender. This is clearly an issue that has spited Tortella publicly. Have any steps been taken to remedy this dilemma, either through acquiring an UFA or possibly through a trade with another team?

I answered the Khabibulin question earlier. Yes, trust me, we have been trying since Nik left to solidify the position. We believe Holmer continues to have upside and we think Ramo will develop into a quality number one. That's the reason we've been drafting as we have for the past three or four years. We've been trying to home-grow a legitimate number one b/c they are incredibly difficult to acquire.

Question 20:
How confident are you with our goaltending? What can we expect?

Very confident...please see my earlier comments...Holmer still has a great deal of upside and wants to prove that he's a legit number one. Marc wants to prove that he should be the top guy and he has great pride. He will have a bounce back year. Ramo wants to show that he belongs in the NHL and our scouts and goalie coaches are very bullish on him.

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