Second-year defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, 20, is fast becoming the
dominating all-around blueliner most observers expected when the
Panthers selected him with the third pick of the 2002 draft. Part
of the reason for his development is the presence of 24-year-old
Mike Van Ryn, another offensive-minded defenseman who has
blossomed this year. The talented Van Ryn, who was obtained from
the Blues in a trade last March, has taken some of the load off
Bouwmeester.... Don't be surprised if the Capitals, who were
1-6-1-0 through Sunday, fire either G.M. George McPhee or coach
Bruce Cassidy shortly. The blame, however, lies with owner Ted
Leonsis, who insisted that Washington trade for Jaromir Jagr in
2001 and then signed middling center Robert Lang a year later.
Both players have been terrible disappointments and are
untradable because of the irresponsible contracts Leonsis gave
them ($11 million per year for Jagr; $5 million a season for
Lang).... Defenseman Steve Staios is not a big-name player, but
it is important for the Oilers to re-sign him before he becomes a
free agent this summer. The steady Staios leads Edmonton's
blueliners in minutes played.