Once the Coyotes are officially sold to a group led by Wayne
Gretzky and businessman Steve Ellman, look for top-notch
goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who sat out last season because
of a contract dispute, to sign a deal and return to the team.
Khabibulin, in fact, even offered to come to training camp
without a contract, but current owner Richard Burke told him he
was not welcome. Moreover, Burke signed unrestricted free-agent
goalie Sean Burke (no relation) to a one-year, $1.3 million deal
two weeks ago. Expect the new owners to deal Burke, possibly to
the Penguins, as soon as they gain control of the club....
Vancouver's Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, may be the
best-known rookies entering the NHL this season, but here are
five other first-year forwards who should make an impact in
2000-01: Martin Havlat and Petr Schastlivy of the Senators, Oleg
Saprykin of the Flames, Milan Kraft of the Penguins and Denis
Shvidki of the Panthers....
Which agent will win the Vincent Lecavalier sweepstakes? The
Lightning's star center split with agent Bob Sauve last month,
and suitors are lining up to represent him. Lecavalier, 20, is
expected to have a breakout season and could be a hot property
Red Wings checking center Kris Draper is not doing himself any
favors by holding out and refusing to sign the one-year,
$900,000 deal the team is offering. (He wants a multiyear
contract at slightly more money per season than the team is
willing to pay.) During the summer Detroit brought in free-agent
center Boyd Devereaux, who has performed well in camp, and also
moved defenseman Mathieu Dandenault to forward, making the front
line a crowded place. Playing well on an excellent team would
help Draper, who could be an unrestricted free agent in July
2001, cash in next summer.