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Lightning centre Ryan Craig given US$850,000 arbitration award

Craig, who earned $495,000 last year, had asked for $1.2 million while the Lightning had countered with a figure of $650,000. The hearing was held Friday in Toronto.

“We appreciate the fact that the arbitrator weighed all the evidence presented and awarded what we believe is a very reasonable contract for this player,” Lightning GM Jay Feaster said in a statement. “The good news is Ryan will now be under contract for the 2007-’08 season and the amount of the award will not force our hand in terms of having to move the player.”

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Craig, 25, of Abbotsford, B.C., had 14 goals and 13 assists in 72 games last season with Tampa Bay.

The six-foot-two, 220-pound forward was Tampa Bay’s eighth choice, 255th overall, in the 2002 NHL entry draft. Craig had 15 goals and 13 assists in 2005-’06 as a rookie.

Tampa Bay now has all of its restricted free agents under contract for the upcoming season as Craig was the only player to file for arbitration this summer.