In a decision which could affect numerous NCAA players and NHL teams, an arbitrator declared 1998 New Jersey first round draft choice Mike Van Ryn to be an unrestricted free agent.
Van Ryn, drafted after his freshman year at the University of Michigan, left college after his sophomore season to play for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. He and his agents argued that a loophole in the NHL collective bargaining agreement made the young defenseman a free agent.
Arbitrator Lawrence Holden agreed with Van Ryn, a bitter pill to swallow for both the Devils and the NHL. It was hoped New Jersey would avoid an arbitrator’s decision and settle with Van Ryn.
The Boston Bruins had a similar situation in 1999 with former draft choice Ben Clymer who left the University of Minnesota in order to play in the Western Hockey League. However the Bruins relented after receiving pressure from the league, allowing Clymer to become a free agent and sign with Tampa Bay. This avoided the inevitable arbitrator’s decision setting a precedent for the future.
Van Ryn, a solid two-way defensman, should generate considerable interest from other NHL teams. He is certain to receive more lucrative offers than he had received from New Jersey.
The Minnesoata Wild Selected both goaltender Jamie McLellan and winger ScottPellerin. Both players should be solid contributors with the Wild this upcoming season. McLellan has proven himself as a solid NHL backup and Pellerin is a great checking forward. With a drop in production from last season when Pelly scored 20 goals, the blues elected to expose him and as expected the Wild jumped at the opportunity.
Many side deals have taken place throughout the day and many may still be in the making. For the blues, they must now focus on signing the two significant UFA’s, Tyson Nash and Mike Eastwood. The two are likely to recieve significant raises due their importance with the Blues organization and even more importance now since Pellerin has been lost.
In terms of Blues prospects, it looks like Brent Johnson will get a crack at the back-up job with the big club. There are rumors floating around stating that the blues may sign a veteran goalie in terms of insurance in the event of a call up due to injuries to Turek or Johnson. Cody Rudkowsky would be the third string and is certainly not ready for the jump to the big club as he had a so-so season as a backup to Johnson in Worcester.
The blues oragnization have stated on many occasions that they will be active in the free agent market come July 1st but for now, Draft day lies ahead of us. Read more»
After Jeff Jackson was fired, Mike Eaves was the prime candidate to take his job and he is now the USA NTDP’s Under 18 Coach. Eaves approach to his new job is this, my assistants and I will set goals, work towards the goals, and make sure we are having fun. Mike’s son Patrick, who is one of the top 84’s in the country is following his dad out there and will be playing for the Under 17 team. Some of the players Eaves has high expectations of include Eric Nystrom, Dwight Helminen, Justin Maiser, Brian McConnell, Barry Tallackson, and newcomers Jesse Lane and Ryan Whitney. “I haven’t seen much of the team yet, only on a few tapes and from talking to scouts,” Eaves said. Expect the Under 18 team to have a strong year in the USHL and turn some heads during international competition.
Also of note Keith Allain has been rumored to be the new USA National Junior Coach but no official announcement has come from USA Hockey. USA Hockey must come up with a coach soon because of the National Junior Camp set for August as they need to invite the top players to Lake Placid for the camp.