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Caps Deal Backup Goalie Ranford

With the emergence of Olaf Kolzig and only one spot to protect a goaltender in the upcoming expansion draft, the Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals have dealt away backup goaltender Bill Ranford to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just two days after his team was swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals, Ranford is on the move to Tampa Bay, where he could once again become a No. 1 goaltender.

Ranford, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff most valuable player in leading the Edmonton Oilers to the 1990 Stanley Cup, goes to Tampa Bay for the Lightning's third-round pick this season and their No. 2 selection in 1999.

Tampa Bay, which finished with the league's worst record, used to have one of the league's best netminders, but Daren Puppa's career has been sidetracked by various major injuries. Though Puppa is finally healthy, his demise helped lead the franchise into a two-year funk after its performance in 1995-96, when it made its first and only playoff appearance.

Besides the turmoil of constant losing the Lightning have battled numerous other problems on and off the ice, including the recent sale of the team.

In Ranford, they are aiming for stability and a quick rise back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Ranford played sparingly this season behind Kolzig, posting a 7-12-2 record with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. He did not make an appearance in the playoffs.

Puppa is still under contract, though his health problems could lead to the team exposing him in the expansion draft. Mark Fitzpatrick and Corey Schwab, who handled the bulk of the duties in goal for Tampa Bay this season, are no longer under contract.

Washington made the acquisition of Ranford in a hyped trade with Boston during the stretch run of the 1996-97 season, but the addition of him, Adam Oates and Rick Tocchet could not help the team grab a playoff berth. Tocchet left for Phoenix as a free agent, Oates became the team's top center and Ranford was relegated to the bench as Washington made its first appearance in the Cup Finals but was wiped out by Detroit this season.

Boston saw Jason Allison emerge as one of the league's new young stars, while Anson Carter quickly became a solid NHL player. The other player in the deal, goaltender Jim Carey, was sent to the minors.

The 31-year-old Ranford will be entering the second season of a three-year, $9 million deal.

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