GMs may dig up rule allowing minor-league burials

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

There is growing discontent among NHL general managers.

While it's well within the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the fact teams can bury their problems in the minors so that big salaries don't count against the $56.7-million US cap has GMs shaking their heads.

As training camps wound up last month, a host of players -- including San Jose's Kyle McLaren (making $2.5 million this season), Boston's Peter Schaefer ($2.3 million) and Vancouver's Matt Pettinger ($1.1 million) -- cleared waivers and were sent to the minors.

GMs are saying privately that teams should be forced to pay for their mistakes by having demoted players count against the cap.

Not everyone supports the theory, as teams still have to pay their problem players.

"It's within the rules and the teams that are doing it are being penalized by the fact that they've got to pay a big salary for a guy who isn't even playing for them," a league executive said. "It's not like owners are happy to pay that big money to have guys riding the bus."

Watch for this issue to come up at the next GMs meetings, beginning Wednesday in Chicago.

HEDMAN 'A STUD'

Senators assistant GM Tim Murray has seen the future and it's Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman, an 18-year-old from Modo.

Murray just got back from seeing Hedman play and was impressed.

"This kid is a stud," Murray said. "He has it all: Size, speed and skill. That's rare in a defenceman. He's just got excellent puck skills and he sees the ice so well."

Murray agrees with what some others have said earlier -- that Hedman might unseat Oshawa Generals centre John Tavares as the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft.

"It's going to depend on the needs of the team at No. 1, but all I know is it's tough to find defencemen at every level -- including junior B, the AHL and the NHL. This kind of player doesn't come along very often."

OFF THE GLASS

Keep an eye on the Blackhawks because there could be more changes. The talk is GM Dale Tallon needed to be convinced to fire coach Denis Savard and has landed on the hot seat himself as a result ... Next coach to be fired? The clock is ticking on Peter Laviolette in Carolina ... Tampa Bay's poor start has many wondering if bringing in Barry Melrose as coach was the right move ... Flyers coach John Stevens is shaking up his most productive line to get the club back on track. Centre Mike Richards, right winger Daniel Briere and left winger Simon Gagne have been split up. Briere will now centre Gagne and Mike Knuble ... Claude Lemieux has started his comeback. According to Coyotes officials, the 43-year-old former NHL pest suited up for the Central Hockey League's Arizona Sundogs in an exhibition game last Thursday. The club, which is based in Prescott, Ariz., is a lower-level affiliate of the Coyotes.

WILD BEING SELECTIVE

Contrary to popular belief, the Wild hasn't offered Marian Gaborik around the NHL.

With talk that Gaborik is demanding a 10-year, $100-million contract after rejecting more than $8 million per season, GM Doug Risebrough has started discussions with teams where he sees a possible fit. That includes the Canadiens, who are making a run for the Stanley Cup.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis also shown interest, but he needs a centre more than another winger. Vancouver tried hard to get Florida centre Olli Jokinen before he was dealt to the Coyotes.

It doesn't help the Gaborik situation when he's continually on the shelf with injuries and that will hurt his value.

AROUND THE BOARDS

Schaefer, who is toiling with Boston's AHL affiliate in Providence, had the chance to make $2.1 million in Russia, but turned down the offer. The Bruins are looking for a defenceman and would like to use Schaefer as trade bait ... Yes, there is major concern in Washington about goalie Jose Theodore. The club allowed Cristobal Huet to walk away and that's not sitting well ... The Hawks have held talks with the Sharks about McLaren ... The Canucks are trying to move Pettinger and the Thrashers, Panthers and Hurricanes may have some interest.


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