Thursday, July 28, 2005


Around the League

There will be no chats today, however tomorrow morning at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm will be insider chats and a chat in the main room for everyone at 4pm. I am hearing rumors at this hour that Greg Johnson has signed a deal with the Preds. A much needed signing. And that Hatcher may soon be in talks with the Flyers, Turgeon with the Habs. Also look for some interesting moves tonight. I am hearing from the agents that many of the teams are asking guys to sign below their qualifiers, or if they are going above they are asking for years in return.

Here are some highlights from around the league...

DRAFT: The best European prospect in this year's NHL Entry Draft, winger Anze Kopitar, is a native of Slovenia. Kopitar spent the past winter playing junior hockey in Sweden, winning the scoring championship in the process, and represented his country in several international tournaments. He not only played for Slovenia in the under-18 and under-20 world tournaments, but also in the world championships in Austria.

A source told me , "Montreal is gearing up to pick either Gilbert Brulet or Puliot with the #5 pick."

PHX: The agent for goalie Brian Boucher said Wednesday that the Coyotes have yet to tender his client a qualifying offer..

Phoenix has until Sunday to make Boucher a qualifying offer, which would be for $1.52 million. If it doesn't, Boucher, who set a modern day NHL record with five consecutive shutouts during the 2003-04 season, will become an unrestricted free agent.

VANC: Jim Hughson joins Hockey Night in Canada -- will do 10 PM (west coast) games. Bob Cole's successor? Although the Avalanche holds exclusive negotiating rights to free-agent center Peter Forsberg, Vancouver Canucks star Markus Naslund made it clear Tuesday that he wants to play on the same team as his friend.

STL: Today, the Blues will pick up contract options on Patrick Lalime, Matt Walker and Andy Roach. Lalime, who signed a one-year contract with a second-year team option before the lockout, is expected to be the Blues' starting goaltender.

DET: For the first time in Wings history, Original Six rivals Boston, Montreal and Toronto are missing from the schedule. Meanwhile, as the league stresses divisional matchups, the Wings will play each team in the Central Division eight times, including recent expansion teams Columbus and Nashville.

DAL: Mike Modano said he expects his agent, Brian Lawton, to talk by phone with Stars general manager Doug Armstrong Tuesday. Lawton and Armstrong will be in Ottawa for the draft later this week and Modano thinks the two will meet then.

CAR: Glen Wesley has spent all but seven games of the past 10 seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Not even Wesley knows whether he'll be back for a second decade with the franchise. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday that the team wants to re-sign Wesley, but won't offer him a contract before the team's exclusive rights expire on Sunday.

BUFF: managing partner Larry Quinn indicated the Sabres are strongly considering a return to a blue-and-gold scheme, but not for this season. NHL regulations require teams to notify the league of logo and uniform changes a year in advance so merchandise doesn't become obsolete before it can sold. The Buffalo News has learned Satan's tenure in Buffalo - sometimes prolific, sometimes tumultuous - will end either with a discharge or a trade, maybe within a few days.

WASH: the Capitals' plan for next season came into focus during a news conference at the organization's downtown headquarters. That plan can be summed up in two words: young and inexpensive. Majority owner Ted Leonsis said the Capitals' 2005-06 payroll will fall somewhere between the salary cap minimum of $21.5 million and $25 million.

ATL: Thrashers general manager Don Waddell has until 5 p.m. Thursday to decide whether to exercise the $1.52 million option on the contract of captain Shawn McEachern, a possibility that appears to be growing more distant

TB: Feaster said he hopes to submit a formal proposal to Khabibulin's agent, Jay Grossman, before the weekend, possibly before Feaster leaves today for the draft in Ottawa. While at the draft, Feaster plans to meet with Kent Hughes, the agent for Lecavalier to discuss a long-term deal. Feaster said he feels good about the way things are progressing as the league gets closer to the Aug. 1 date when free agency begins.

Nsv: Whether the team reaches that total, Leipold said he plans to have a larger payroll this season than when the Predators were last on the ice. In the 2003-04 ,Nashville had a payroll of less than $25 million. Leipold expects his payroll to start the season will be around $26 million and eventually jump to around $28.6 million, the midpoint of the NHL's new salary cap.

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