Deadline looms for Kootenay Draftees

By Jeff Bromley

For the past few months the question had been circulating: Will the Calgary Flames sign Kootenay ICE captain Jarrett Stoll to a contract or will the Kootenay ICE leader return to lead the club once again?

It appears there might finally be an answer to that question, but not until just minutes before the June 1 deadline expires. After that date Stoll (2nd Rd., Calgary 2000), along with teammates Gerard Dicaire (2nd Rd., Buffalo 2000) and Shaun Norrie (6th Rd., Edmonton 2000) if they remain unsigned, will re-enter the NHL Draft on June 22 in Toronto.

Talk has been circulating for the past two weeks that the Flames were going to finally make an offer to Stoll but nothing materialized. If it’s weighing on the mind of the Kootenay captain then he’s not showing it. Then again, coming off a Memorial Cup championship will do that any mild case of stress.

“They’re talking, that’s pretty much all I can say,” said Stoll. “I’m confident that things will get done. I respect the Calgary Flames and if something gets done then that’s great. That’s what I’m hoping for but I’m not worrying about it too much right now. Hopefully by the end of the week there’ll be something done.”

Speculation surrounding the Flames had them wrought over signing their three high profile prospects from 2000. Stoll, NCAA d-man Jordan Leopold and Kelowna Rocket Chuck Kobasew. Two of the three were going to be signed with the other going back into the draft was the accepted theory. With Leopold supposedly the lock and Kobasew’s dazzling training camp last fall where he almost made the NHL club, Stoll was thought to be the odd-man out. After the success of the Stoll this year as captain of the silver-medal winning World Junior club and the Memorial Cup winning team, that line of thinking has changed.

Persisting rumors have the announcement for Calgary signing the Yorkton, Sask. native surfacing just before the deadline.

For Shaun Norrie and Girard Dicaire the possibility of signing with their respective draft clubs isn’t as rosy. “As of yet there was nothing on the table after I spoke to my agent at the (Memorial Cup),” said Dicaire. “He’s been talking to them about once a week to see what’s going on but he figures it will come down to June 1.”

Although Dicaire prefers to sign with the Sabres, after the rebirth of his hockey career in Cranbrook the possibility of re-entering the draft and even returning next season is something he’s doesn’t mind one bit. “I was just happy to get out of Seattle when I did,” said Dicaire of the deadline deal that brought him to Cranbrook in January for Trevor Johnson. “I was excited to come to an organization that’s been there before. They’d won a championship in 2000 and there’s a good group of guys here. As soon as I was traded, we went on a seven-game winning streak and it felt good to win again. After that it was in my mind-set that we did have a team that can win here. Everything just kind of fell into place after that.”

“With (the contract)I’m going to just take one day at a time because you don’t really have much say in the process. If you don’t come to terms then you can go back into the draft and if you’re passed over you become a free-agent. It all depends on what happens on June 22 in Toronto.”

“If I do get passed over then I’ll come back next year and hopefully have a good year. If I get drafted then I’d hope to go second round or better again because it keeps your negotiating leverage. We’ll see what happens but hopefully I come to terms with Buffalo.”

Other drafted Kootenay players such as Marek Svatos (Colorado 7th Rd. 2001), Duncan Milroy (Montreal 2nd Rd. 2001), Tomas Plihal (San Jose 5th Rd. 2001) could all see changes in addresses next season but only Svatos is the more likely of the three to move on. Svatos could return as a twenty-yr-old but will more than likely sign with the Avalanche and assigned to their AHL affiliate. Plihal, if signed and because he was drafted before he was in the WHL could play in San Jose’s system next season but will most likely be back with the ICE. Milroy, being nineteen next year can play only with the Canadiens or back in junior with the ICE.