Testing Feaster's Mettle

Jay Feaster has overseen just a bit of the Lightning in his tenure as GM with the Bolts. He wasn't the man who oriignally built the Lightning, nor was he the man who helped resurrect the franchise with a revolving door policy - trying to find cogs as well as stock the system. Jay's general task has been to take the fruits of Rick Dudley's and Phil Esposito's labors and turn the franchise into a contender - putting them over the top.

Not only did Jay achieve that goal -- he put the Lightning over the top of the entire NHL as the Lightning roster achieved the ultimate goal -- winning Lord Stanley's Cup.

But now Jay is in a different position - he is in the middle of a tough spot (as are the other 29 General Managers in the league) where he not only has to re-sign but most likely also retool the roster under the new CBA rules of the National Hockey League.

11 players are under contract for next season and like it or not - the roster will change over from the champions-redeux that Feaster had secured for the 2004-05 campaign (had it happened). How the roster is molded from here on in will be a true telling of Jay's ability. Who's cut loose? Who's promoted from the minor leagues? Who's signed? Who's re-signed? Who's cast adrift? How do they deal with holes as they become visible (the most glaring possible hole is at Goaltender with Nikolai Khabibulin a Unrestricted Free Agent).

Feaster reportedly met with several players agents today in New York... It's just the start of a very long processes that needs to be hammered out in a very short time frame and will ultimately cement his status as one of the leagues best executives or bring into question the abilities as a contract-lawyer-come-General-Manager.