Teams, free agents play waiting game

Updated: August 6, 2003, 11:59 AM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
NHL training camps will open in less than six weeks, rosters are being filled and budgets are getting tighter, but representatives for some of the bigger names remaining among unrestricted free agents aren't worried that their clients will be without jobs once the regular season starts Oct. 8.

After the higher-profile free agents, such as center Sergei Fedorov, left winger Paul Kariya and defenseman Derian Hatcher, gradually found new contracts sporadic signings have taken place. Yet quality veterans, such as centers Joe Nieuwendyk, Adam Oates, Cliff Ronning, wingers Magnus Arvedson, Steve Thomas, defensemen Oleg Tverdovsky, Ken Klee and Dmitri Yushkevich remain without teams.

Patience on the part of teams and agents has left many players in limbo, but a few agents are confident that clients who are established players will land on an NHL club eventually. Genuine offers haven't even been put on the table, so it's less of a showdown than a long-distance chess match. The teams have obvious needs but are waiting longer to fill them in the hope of getting a bargain or two.