Red Wings use option on Hasek

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

The Detroit Red Wings picked up Dominik Hasek's $8 million contract option for next season before Monday night's deadline, officially welcoming back the retired star and at the same time muddling their goaltending picture.

The Wings must now decide what to do with Curtis Joseph, who has two years remaining on his $24 million, three-year contract and more importantly has a no-trade clause. Hasek, the two-time MVP and a six-time recipient of the Vezina Trophy with Buffalo, retired after Detroit won the Stanley Cup in 2002.

Now 38, he says he missed the game last season and informed the Wings last month of his decision to return to the ice.

Also on Monday, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks made seven-time all-star forward Paul Kariya an unrestricted free agent, declining to tender a qualifying offer. The Ducks also allowed Adam Oates to join the free-agent market. NHL clubs faced a midnight deadline to re-sign players.

The unrestricted free agents hit the market today. Included will be forwards Sergei Fedorov, Teemu Selanne, Ray Whitney, Joe Nieuwendyk and Daniel Cleary as well as defensemen Oleg Tverdovsky, Derian Hatcher, Greg De Vries and Glen Wesley.

But they might not be scooped up as quickly as in the past. Several of the traditional big-spending clubs such as Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia and Toronto have said they plan to approach free agency more judiciously.

Eric Desjardins took himself off the market by signing a two-year deal plus an option to remain in Philadelphia. The 34-year-old defenseman will earn about $4 million a year, which is what he made last season. The Flyers also re-signed center Claude Lapointe to a two-year deal.

Phoenix re-signed 35-year-old defenseman Teppo Numminen to a one-year deal.

The Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils decided Tverdovsky's $3.6 million qualifying offer was too rich so the 27-year-old offensive defenseman is now unrestricted.

The Rangers and Oilers also completed a trade Monday that probably won't end up the way it started. New York sent two-time Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch to Edmonton for goalie Jussi Markkanen.

The Oilers were not expected to sign Leetch but will receive a compensatory draft pick in 2004 -- probably a second-rounder. -- when the defenseman goes to another team.

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