October 1, 2003.
TORONTO (CP) -- Curtis Joseph and other well-known veterans will be unprotected in the NHL waiver draft Friday but their big salaries are bound to deter teams from selecting them.
This annual fire sale of veterans has become much ado about nothing.
"I think you'll see some better players exposed this year but whether they move or not is another matter,'' Canucks GM Brian Burke said after a meeting of the league's general managers in Toronto on Tuesday.
Burke figures more players will be moved in trades after the waiver draft.
That's just what may happen with the Detroit Red Wings, who tried to trade Joseph after re-signing Dominik Hasek during the summer. The Wings were unable to deal Joseph by the time a three-day waiver draft trade freeze went into effect at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday - even after agreeing to pay part of Joseph's $8 million US salary.
"I talked to Curtis,'' said Wings GM Ken Holland. "He knows what my plans are.
"You have to let this thing sort itself out. We'll see what comes Friday.''
Any team now opting to claim Joseph on Friday would be on the hook for the full salary, and most teams already are scraping their heads against budget ceilings.
Players such as Robert Reichel of the Toronto Maple Leafs ($3.25 million US) also might be available as teams expose generously-paid journeymen so they can protect farmhands who figure into future plans.
Reichel probably won't be going anywhere. The waiver draft is mainly a movement of lower-paid players needed to plug short-term defence or fourth-line holes or to upgrade backup goaltending.
Most skaters with less than three years NHL experience and most goalies with less than four years tenure are exempt.
Only teams that missed the playoffs last spring can take players in the first round of the waiver draft. Carolina has first pick, Pittsburgh second and Columbus third and so forth. No club may claim from a club in its own division.
No club may lose more than three players unless it chooses to offer more players.
The league will release lists of protected and available players on Wednesday.
Last year, the only players claimed via conference call were defencemen Stephane Robidas (by Atlanta), Mathieu Biron (by Columbus), Francis Bouillon (by Nashville) and Rick Berry (by Washington) and right-wingers Petr Tenkrat (by Florida) and Ronald Petrovicky (by the Rangers). The same day, Atlanta traded Robidas to Dallas for a sixth-round draft pick, and Columbus sent Biron to Florida for Tenkrat.
There was a bit more activity two years ago when Detroit exposed goalie Chris Osgood and the New York Islanders snapped him up.
Also claimed were goaltender Martin Brochu (by Vancouver), defencemen Phil Housley (by Chicago) and Jamie Allison (by Calgary), centres Josh Holden (by Carolina) and Sebastien Bordeleau (by Minnesota), left-wingers Kirk Muller (by Columbus) and P.J. Stock (by Boston) and right-winger Glen Metropolit (by Tampa Bay). The same day, Muller was traded to Dallas for the rights to somebody called Evgeny Petrochinin. Muller retired this summer.
None of the players claimed in the waiver draft two years ago are still with the teams that took them.
Three years ago, only five players changed teams. Claimed were right-winger Jeff Odgers (by Atlanta), left-wingers Zdeno Ciger (by Minnesota), Andreas Johansson (by the Rangers) and Sylvian Blouin (by Minnesota) and centre Jason Podollan (by Tampa Bay).
At the least, the waiver draft gives men buried in organizations a chance at full-time NHL employment with needy teams. That's what it was designed to do.