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TAMPA - Fredrik Modin and his perennial 30-goal production are gone, shipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a goalie, Marc Denis, who the Lightning hope can carry them deep into the playoffs this season.

That created the opportunity.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored a career-best 26 goals in 2005-06 and is eligible for free agency after the season for the first time in his NHL career.

That created the motivation.

So far, opportunity and motivation have converged in a good way for the Lightning and Fedotenko.

The team has gotten steady, sure-handed, hard-working production (four goals, four assists in nine games) from a player who seems to have recovered from his second offseason hip surgery in two years.

And Fedotenko, 27, has begun to position himself well for a contract that's sure to give him a substantial raise from the $1.65 million he's making this season.

Whether that contract is with the Lightning remains to be seen, but General Manager Jay Feaster won't wait around until after the season to begin exploring ways to keep the Ukrainian-born forward in a Tampa Bay uniform.

Bolts Hope To Keep Fedotenko
 
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