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Page 3 of 3 -- Short money?
The Oilers have yet to come to contract terms with slick center Petr Nedved, whom they obtained at the trade deadline when the Rangers purged their roster. The Oiler offer is $9 million over three years, which is about $1 million a year short, by Nedved's calculations . . . Anyone notice how the Coyotes have quietly added some veteran touch to their lineup? The likes of Sean O'Donnell, Brett Hull, Mike Ricci, Boyd Devereaux, and Jason Chimera should give the Desert Dogs a little more bite . . . Leafs netminder Eddie Belfour, whose bad back forced him to pull out of Team Canada well before the start of camp last week, keeps saying he is confident that he'll make it back via conditioning and exercise. However, there is a growing suspicion in Leaf Nation (picture a ramped-up Red Sox Nation) that Eddie the Eagle might have to consider surgery. That, in part, is why stories surfaced in Toronto last week that general manager John Ferguson Jr. had his eye on ex-Bruin Byron Dafoe, 33, as a possible backup backstop. Dafoe's career at times came to a standstill during the last two years in Atlanta, where he battled a series of nagging injuries . . . The right place for the FAO Schwarz bear to take up residence is on Causeway Street, where an oversized Black & Gold sweater would afford the poor fella some winter's warmth, don't you think? . . . Jagr was ambivalent about suiting up for the Czechs, in part because he wanted to spend more time with his new girlfriend, Czech TV anchor Lucie Borhyova . . . Scott Niedermayer, his pay bumped from $4 million to $7 million via arbitration, figures he'll continue to talk with the Devils about a long-term deal, but earlier this summer he reportedly turned down a five-year, $40 million pact at Exit 16W. If, as some GMs predict, there is a significant erosion in salaries, it could be next to impossible for Niedermayer to find someone to hand over $33 million for his next four years.

One that got away
Bryan Berard's new deal in Chicago, for one year, is worth $3 million. Delivered his walkaway papers here last summer when the Bruins refused to accept his arbitration award, Berard will have averaged $2.5 million for the two years since he was sent packing. Now the Bruins are faced with paying $5.5 million to Gonchar for just this year. Berard is not Gonchar, but he is close enough that a $5 million deal over two years, if negotiated here last summer, would have proven far more economical. And, yes, Tom Laidlaw, Berard's agent, would have jumped at a two-year, $5 million deal . . . Sami Kapanen, contrary to what he was telling teammates as the season ended in Philadelphia, is coming back to the Flyers. He was prepared to walk away from the $2.5 million he had in place for next season, but reconsidered a return to Finland when the Flyers stretched the deal out by two years. Great place, Finland, but no one over there is offering upward of $8 million over three years . . . What will NESN show if it loses all that Bruins programming, should a lockout last a half-season or more? Answer: Get ready to watch a whole lot of NHL Classic stuff, maybe even that triple-OT game ended by Petr Klima. You know the one, right? . . . Vincent Damphousse, who made $4 million last year with the Sharks, will make half that next year with the Avalanche. (If everyone took a 50 percent rollback, the current collective bargaining agreement would be just dandy.) Why the interest in a soon-to-be-37-year-old forward? Because there is the lingering suspicion that superstar Peter Forsberg has had enough of the NHL life and will play out his career back in Sweden. If so, Damphousse will be a No. 2 center. If not, he'll work on the wing. With 1,205 points, Damphousse ranks No. 38 on the all-time scoring list. Only once in his career has he reached the 40-goal plateau . . . Look for Doug Doull, one of the Bruins' most willing pugilists over the years, to sign any day now with someone other than the Bruins. According to Doull's agent, McBride, the deal is in place ("Somewhere out west," according to McBride), but has to be executed . . . Gill's new deal, which was agreed upon prior to his going to arbitration, brought him a $100,000 raise over his $2 million last season . . . Reports out of Manhattan last week had the Rangers closing in on ex-Carolina backstop Kevin Weekes to partner with Mike Dunham. Weekes made $2.35 million last season in Raleigh, and the Tropical Depressions weren't willing to up the ante, rendering the 29-year-old a free agent . . . There will be more CBA hemming and hawing this week when the sides bore each other to tears on Wednesday and Thursday in Ottawa, followed by another hem-and-haw session the following Tuesday and Wednesday in Montreal. They aren't even in the same rink, folks, never mind on the same sheet of ice.

Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report. 

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