Slow start to buyouts

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

It was supposed to be a day of furious activity as NHL teams opened their doors for business after a 10-month hiatus.

You could have fooled us.

While the Philadelphia Flyers made the biggest splash by buying out high-priced veterans Tony Amonte and John LeClair, things generally were quiet in the front offices of the 30 NHL clubs yesterday.

With many agents and general managers still pouring over the nuances of the 600-page collective bargaining agreement, clubs seem to be proceding with caution until they have a better understanding of the new deal.

"I suspected it might be slow out of the gates once people got a hold of the CBA," agent Jeff Solomon said last night from California. "There is a lot to go over in this deal.

MIDWEEK MOVES

"I think you'll see the meat of activity occur in the middle of the week. People are still trying to get a firm grip on the document. We're navigating though uncharted waters here."

That didn't stop Flyers GM Bob Clarke from pulling out his axe and jettisoning a pair of big-ticket forwards, clearing about $7.5 million US in salary cap room in the process.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," said LeClair, who was slated to make $6.84 million this season. "But it was something I was prepared for.

"I knew it was a very realistic possibility for over a year now. My disappointment comes from knowing my years with the Flyers are over."

Clarke's focus now shifts to Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a pair of highly touted prospects who are the future of the Flyers franchise. Teams have until July 28 to get unsigned 2003 draft picks under contract.

RUN AT NIEDERMAYER

There is also speculation that the Flyers will take a hard run at free agent defenceman Scott Niedermayer come Aug. 1. Niedermayer's agent, Kevin Epp, met with New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello yesterday, but there is some doubt as to whether the defending Norris Trophy winner will return to New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings have a lengthy list of candidates that might be bought out in the coming days. Forwards Darren McCarty, Roberts Lang, Ray Whitney and defenceman Derian Hatcher could all be searching for new hockey homes as general manager Ken Holland attempts to clear out salary in order to keep former Norris Trophy winner Nik Lidstrom in the fold.

There were also reports yesterday that buyouts were imminent for Dallas Stars' Pierre Turgeon and Brian Savage of the St. Louis Blues.


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