Skip to main content
Original Issue

In The Crease

Did you know that any Canadian-based team that has a Group 2
restricted free agent who has been offered a contract from
another club in U.S. dollars can match that offer in Canadian
dollars with the NHL picking up the difference in value between
the two currencies? (At week's end the Canadian dollar was worth
66 U.S. cents.) That little-known rule may come into play often
in the next two years because several talented players, such as
forward Alexei Yashin and defenseman Wade Redden of the Senators
and backliners Roman Hamrlik and Boris Mironov of the Oilers can
become Group 2 free agents. For instance, if Yashin signs an
offer sheet with another team for $10 million U.S., the Senators
would retain his services by matching only the equivalent of
$6.6 million, with the league's picking up the remaining $3.4
million. That's one reason Canadian clubs aren't as fearful of
losing their top free agents as you might think....

U.S. colleges are producing a lot of quality NHL players--the
Canucks' Bill Muckalt (Michigan), the Avalanche's Chris Drury
(BU) and the Devils' Brendan Morrison (Michigan), for example,
are ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, in rookie
scoring this season--and scouts are saying that this June's
draft may produce a bumper crop, including defenseman Doug Janik
of Maine and forward Matt Murley of RPI. A big reason for this
is the well-coached development program for 16- to 18-year-olds
that USA Hockey is running under the direction of Jeff Jackson,
who guided Lake Superior State to NCAA titles in 1992 and '94....

The Panthers made an outstanding free-agent signing last summer
in defenseman Dan Boyle, who played at Miami of Ohio. After
spending the first four months of this season with Florida's
affiliate in the AHL, Boyle scored four points in his first four
games with the Panthers, beginning on Feb. 18....

Two teams that should be worried about the homestretch are the
Hurricanes and the Coyotes. Both clubs have poor power plays
that don't spend enough time in the attacking zone and thus
don't create enough offensive chances. Carolina, which had
converted four of its last 72 power plays, was ranked 27th and
Phoenix 26th in man-advantage situations. A strong power play is
almost imperative if a team wants to contend for the Stanley Cup.