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January 28, 2014 | 11:05pm ET
Bolts searching for defenseman
TheFourthPeriod.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning would like to add a top-four defenseman to their roster before the trade deadline comes and goes in early-March.

It had been widely speculated that the Bolts were waiting to see if three-time Stanley Cup champion Brian Rafalski could return to action, but he has cut his comeback short.

Rafalski, 40, had signed on with the ECHL's Florida Everblades, but was released from the team on Tuesday.

"I'm done," he told the Ft. Myers News-Press. "My back is no good. That was one of the hurdles.

"After playing two games, it inflamed the nerves in my back, so I'm done. I felt like I played pretty well the last game. I was getting my timing, and the game seemed to slow down.

"There's no reason to keep going. This is not something you can push or play through or goes away."

With Rafalski out of the picture, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will look elsewhere to fill his search for a mobile defenseman.

The Bolts have around $4.5 million in available salary cap space and can make an impactful acquisition before the March 5 deadline.

If the New York Islanders are unable to sign blueliner Andrew MacDonald to a contract extension before the deadline, they'll look to trade him to the highest bidder.

MacDonald, 27, is in the final-year of a four-year contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He could be an afforable target for Tampa Bay, among other teams looking to bolster their blueline down the stretch.

In 833 career NHL regular-season games with the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings, Rafalski accumulated 79 goals and 436 assists for 515 points.


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