July 28, 2003CP
-- The NHL free-agent cupboard is almost bare.
With most of the big-name players now under contract, agents for about 30 veterans who remain at large are hard-pressed to extend careers.
Joe Nieuwendyk might land with the Detroit Red Wings, who need a centre now that Sergei Fedorov has jumped to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Nieuwendyk would have to be content with less than the $5 million US he earned with the New Jersey Devils last season.
The same holds true for many of the others free agents still out there. On the downside of their careers, they can't expect to make quite so much money anymore.
Example: Chris Simon signed with the Rangers for about $1.5 million after making $2.25 million in Chicago last season.
Example: Luc Robitaille signed with the Kings for $1.1 million plus incentives after making $4 million with the Red Wings last season.
|Gilmour is one of many veterans looking for a home for the upcoming season|
Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Oates, Kirk Muller, Adam Graves, Sylvain Lefebvre, Tommy Albelin, Felix Potvin, Bob Probert, Craig Berube, Cliff Ronning, Ray Whitney, Dmitry Yushkevich, Ken Klee, Lyle Odelein, Murray Baron, Kelly Buchberger . . . and others remain available.
Steve Yzerman is on the list, too, but the captain of the Detroit Red Wings is finalizing a new deal with the only NHL club for which he's played.
Likewise, Messier and Leetch are unlikely to leave the Rangers if they give them a respectable offer.
Doug Gilmour, if he decides to continue, also will stay where he is, too in Toronto or pack it in.
Steve Thomas is talking to the Mighty Ducks, who want him back.
For some, it might be the end of the line.
The Chicago Blackhawks told Probert they no longer had a sweater for him to fill last season and it's hard to imagine any team picking up a player so obviously over the hill.
Sandy McCarthy isn't needed by the Rangers anymore now that they've signed Simon.
There's not much left for Igor Larionov, 42, to give, although Detroit might opt to keep him around for one more year.Notes:
Messier, 42, has a good reason to continue playing: he's only seven points shy of passing Gordie Howe and moving into second place behind buddy Wayne Gretzky on the all-time points list ... Red Wings GM Ken Holland continues to shop goalie Curtis Joseph, who is expendable now that Dominik Hasek has returned to Detroit. "I've got a lot of little irons in the fire," Holland told the Detroit Free Press. "It's going to take time and we're patient. It's still July and we'll wait until we find a deal that makes sense."