Mighty Ducks sign Rome

By Kevin Forbes

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim announced Monday that they signed free agent
defenseman Aaron Rome to a three-year entry level contract. Rome, 20,
was unable to come to terms with the Los Angeles Kings, after they drafted
him 104th overall (fourth round) in 2002. Although he is touted as being a
stay-at-home blueliner, he was third in defenseman scoring in the 2003-04
season with 52 points in 69 games as an over-ager. A native of Nesbitt,
Manitoba, Rome split last season between the Swift Current Broncos and the
Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League.

After the draft, Rome appeared to be a fourth-round steal for Los Angeles.
He plays a solid game, with sound positioning and toughness. He moves the
puck well and has a strong point shot. He has seen time in all situations in
the WHL, from even strength to power play to penalty kill. He could end up
being a second pairing blueliner for Anaheim.

The acquisition of Rome adds much needed depth to Anaheim’s future on the
blueline, before the draft. Rome immediately becomes the team’s second best
defensive prospect after Mark Popovic. Rome should play next season
with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Anaheim’s AHL farm team, however he could
see time in the NHL in the very near future.

A recent interview with Hockey’s Future, Los Angeles Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray indicated that money was one of the reasons why Rome wasn’t signed by the Kings. Murray said that they tried to sign Rome before the 2003-04 season, but Rome felt that he was being short-changed. Murray also said that “One of the things I heard was that one of his teammates that was drafted in the
fifth or sixth round was given a significant amount of money. Aaron’s offer
was lower and he viewed himself to be every bit the player as the other
guy.” Toronto prospect Ian White, a fifth round selection in 2002
and a teammate of Rome’s with the Swift Current Broncos, was signed to a
three year, entry-level deal last June. The details of that deal were not
made public.

Other News

Mighty Ducks General Manager Bryan Murray is reported to be leaving the club
to take over as head coach of the Ottawa Senators. Although the news is not
official, major news sources have reported that Ottawa will announce this
move later this week. Murray, who also served as the Ducks senior
vice-president took over as head coach in Anaheim in 2001 and moved to
general manager the following season. Compensation will likely have to be provided to Anaheim from Ottawa to make up for
this signing. Meanwhile, Chuck Fletcher, Anaheim’s director of player
personnel, will run the Ducks 2004 draft table.

Anaheim was also on the losing end of the 2002 deadline. Tim Brent
will re-enter the draft after he was unable to come to agreement on a
contract with Anaheim. The 20-year-old center was team captain last season
of the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL and was Anaheim’s second
round choice (37th overall) in the 2002 draft. Brent is a strong two-way
forward who played for Team Canada at 2004 World Junior Championship.
Compensation for unsigned draft picks is only given for first round
picks.

Former Anaheim defensive prospects Brian Lee (Erie Otters, OHL),
Francois Caron (Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL) and Chris Petrow
(Oshawa Generals) also can re-enter the draft. Defenseman Luke
Fritshaw
(Prince Albert Raiders) is an unrestricted free agent. The
deadline for signing CHL players drafted in 2002 was June 1st,
2004.

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