It's rare to find a team with a veteran backup goaltender these
days because of limited budgets and expansion rules, which have
usually kept clubs from protecting more than one goalie. A
reliable and experienced No. 2 netminder, however, can help a
team properly develop its younger goaltenders. The Avalanche is
the best example of that: For the last two seasons Colorado has
been able to retain Craig Billington (below), who broke into the
NHL in 1985-86, to play behind Patrick Roy. Because of that,
21-year-old top prospect Marc Denis has been well groomed in the
minors. Expect a seasoned Denis to be the No. 2 man for the
Avalanche next season....
Even though the Rangers dealt tough defenseman Ulf Samuelsson to
the Red Wings at the trade deadline in March, don't be surprised
if New York makes a run at him when he becomes a free agent in
July. With the possibility that backliner Jeff Beukeboom may
retire because of postconcussion syndrome, the Rangers need a
hard-hitting veteran on the blue line....
Two years ago the Sabres drafted defenseman Brian Campbell of
the Ontario Hockey League Ottawa 67s in the sixth round (156th
pick). Since then the six-foot, 185-pound Campbell has improved
immeasurably and become one of the best defensemen in junior
hockey. According to Campbell's agent, Larry Kelly, if Buffalo
wants to retain Campbell's rights--the Sabres never signed
him--it will have to pay him money commensurate with at least a
second-round draft choice (say, $750,000 a year), and according
to scouts, he would most likely be a first-round pick if the
Sabres fail to sign him and he reenters the draft....
One reason the Avalanche rallied to take a 3-2 series lead
against the Red Wings after losing the first two games: Colorado
studied video of Detroit's 3-0 regular-season loss to the
Penguins on April 11 and realized the Wings had a difficult time
beating the trap. Thus the Avalanche began playing a version of
the 1-2-2 trap, which throttled the Wings in Games 3, 4 and 5.