The publishers that comprise the
Hockey Alliance have teamed up
this Summer to provide news notes from around
the league. This week's column
focuses on the free agent market and what teams
are faced with this off-season.
Take a spin with the latest installment of the
The Sabres' 2003 off-season is thankfully much quieter
than last year's off-season. The new ownership has
made a number of moves to stabilize the franchise:
Regier and Ruff are staying, affiliation with
Rochester renewed and reworked, signing Derek Roy and
Chris Thorburn, setting a payroll budget of $30
million and attempting to convince fans of a renewed
commitment to winning via marketing and bold playoff
The Sabres are in a holding pattern until the draft.
Rumors have flown for weeks the Sabres will be looking
to wheel and deal on draft day. The Sabres have said
they'll trade the #5 pick overall for the right deal.
Look for them to nab Tomas Vanek with that pick,
however, as it's not likely any trade will return a
player of the caliber Vanek could potentially become.
Writer Jim Kelley stated yesterday on WNSA that he
believes the Sabres will make a few trades on draft
weekend, Kelley generally has fairly solid sources
especially where the Sabres are concerned (Kelley used
to be the Sabres' beat writer for the Buffalo News).
Other than that it's pretty quiet in Buffalo.
It's that high hopes time in Calgary again with the
Stanley Cup Finals coming to a close and another down
trodden season finally put to rest. Today the club can
actually say they are tied for first place in the
National Hockey League - you have to stretch things
when you can. With just a handful of days until the
NHL Entry draft fans and media in Calgary are trying
to crack the Flame's new general manager for an
indication of which way he is leaning on draft day.
His predecessor, Craig Button, was more of a talker,
and usually by this time it was pretty easy to nail
down which player he has his sites set on. Not the
case with Sutter.
Sutter has indicated that moving up would be an
option, but that he doubts it to be a possibility
since almost half of the NHL's clubs are looking to do
the same. He did rule out trading the pick out right,
and will likely pick in his 9th position. Look for one
of the big three defencemen in the draft (Coburn,
Suter, or Phaneuf) to be sporting Flame silks. The
Flames made a little more progress on the restricted
free agent front signing blueline anchor Robyn Regehr
to an impressive five year deal that will lock up the
hulking defender until his 28th birthday. It's the
longest contract in Flame's history. Other minor
signings included two Alberta boys in Blair Betts and
Andrew Ferrence. Earlier the Flames locked up wingers
Chris Clark and Shean Donovan, bringing their crossed
off list up to five.
The Flames will be looking to nail down three other
key players at least before the summer drags on too
far, including; Chris Drury, Stephane Yelle, and Toni
Since the last report, the Blackhawks signed a couple
of players. The Blackhawks signed 2001 first round
pick Pavol Vorobiev to a three year contract and
signed minor league winger Quintin Laing to a two way
deal. The Blackhawks also announced that their
prospects will remain in Norfolk for the 2003-2004
Blackhawk Center Tyler Arnason was honored by the NHL
on Thursday Night, as he was one of six players named
to the NHL All Rookie Team. Arnason was previously
honored by the NHL as its rookie of the month for the
months of October and December.
The next few weeks will prove to be a busy one for the
Detroit Red Wings. After coming away with three trophy
winners for the NHL Awards last Thursday, the Red
Wings most daunting task will be to re-sign critical
free agents -- some of which had new light shed on
them when the league met for festivities last week.
Sergei Fedorov's agent, Pat Brisson, has made public
some aspects of his negotiations with Detroit GM Ken
Holland concerning his client's contract demands.
According to Brisson, Fedorov would like the 5-year,
$50 million contract offered during the regular season
placed back on the table as a "starting point." Term
has always been the issue with Fedorov, who is
reportedly seeking six years in a deal. A five-year
deal could lay the groundwork for an option for a
sixth year. Money doesn't appear to be a concern --
$10 million per season, the Wings' opening offer, has
been seen as aggressive by Detroit by other league
observers, though Fedorov will likely try to push it
to $11 million.
Although there was concern over Masterton winner Steve
Yzerman's one-year contract, focus on that has
dissapated over the last week after public statements
from both sides saying the situation was blown out of
porportion. Neogiations with RW Darren McCarty are
moving slowly since his camp sent three
counter-proposals to Holland following the
organization's 3-year, $6 million offer.
Hockey season's over, but Minnesota fans are still
celebrating as Jacques Lemaire took home the Jack
Adams trophy Thursday as the best coach in the NHL,
while the Houston Aeros, Minnesota's top afiliate,
took home the AHL's Calder Cup.
Most eyes are on the draft now, but speculation has
already begun that Phil Housley, a Minnesota native
who still lives in the state, may sign with the Wild
for about $1.5 million and end his career in
Minnesota. With Cliff Ronning unlikely to return,
Housley would become the point man on the Wild's power
Mike Milbury's reign of terror continues here on Long
Island as the most successful coach since Al Arbour
was let go in 1994 was fired on June 3rd. Peter
Laviolette and his assistant coaches were let go and
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) coach Steve Stirling was
hired to replace him. Not only did Laviolette lead the
Islanders to the post season in both years he coached
the team, he was also only the second coach in team
history to leave with a winning record. If you're
counting, that's five coaches in nine years for
Milbury... seven including interim coaches.
Congratulations to Pat LaFontaine who was elected to
the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday along with Grant
Fuhr, Mike Illitch and Brian Kilrea. LaFontaine is
tied for fifth on the Islanders all-time goal list and
sixth on the all-time point list. He finished his
career with 468 goals and 1,013 points in 865 games.
Sharks team President Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson,
Head Coach Ron Wilson and center Mike Ricci met with
about 300 season ticket holders in an attempt to allow
the team's most valuable customers to vent over last
season's implosion in a "town hall" meeting at HP
Pavilion. Fans were given an opportunity to ask
questions about the direction of the team and what the
Sharks plan on doing to avoid another 2002-03
Doug Wilson implied that he would be pursuing a top
six forward and a seasoned defenseman to help bolster
the Sharks chances in 2003-04. No indication if that
top six forward means re-signing Teemu Selanne, who
passed on an option for next season. Veteran
centerman Vincent Damphousse did elect to execute his
option for the upcoming season, which will pay him
roughly $4 million.