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Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning close in on nine-year contract extension @NHLdotcom

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning and Vincent Lecavalier are closing in on a nine-year contract extension that will all but ensure the star centre will play his entire NHL career with one team.

Sources close to the deal told The Canadian Press on Wednesday the deal will be worth between US$75 million to $80 million. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the extension cannot be announced until July. Lecavalier has one more year left on his contract at $7.167 million and would have been an unrestricted free agent in July 2009.

New owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie targeted Lecavalier's extension from the moment they came on board.

The 28-year-old Lecavalier had 92 points (40-52) in 81 games last season.

The Lightning were busy Wednesday, also announcing:

-Goalie Marc Denis was bought out of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. He had one year left on his deal at $3 million.

-Former agent Brian Lawton was hired as vice-president of hockey operations.

-Director of player personnel Bill Barber has resigned effective July 1. The Hall of Famer joined the Lightning in 2002 after 18 years as a coach and scout in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Barber recorded 883 career regular-season points (420-463) in 12 seasons with the Flyers.

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