NHL Notebook: Penguins buy out two contracts

Caron, Endicott to receive one-third of money they were to earn in 2006-07

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Penguins have bought out the contracts of goalie Sebastien Caron and center Shane Endicott, making both unrestricted free agents.

Caron and Endicott were entering the final year of their deals, and will receive one-third of the money they were scheduled to earn in 2006-07.

Caron, who would have been in the final season of a four-year deal, was to earn $722,000, and will get $240,664.26 in his buyout. Endicott, entering the back end of a two-year contract, was to be paid $643,720 and will receive $214,573.31.

Caron, who turns 26 today, was the Penguins' fourth-round draft choice in 1999. He was 8-9-5, with a 3.98 goals-against average and .881 save percentage in 26 games with the Penguins last season.

Endicott, 24, was a second-round choice in 2000, and entered last season as a top candidate to center the checking line. He got a severe ankle sprain a few days into training camp, however, and was unimpressive in 41 games with the Penguins, putting up one goal and one assist.

Caron's departure makes Jocelyn Thibault, who struggled last season before having hip surgery, the leading candidate to begin the 2006-07 season as Marc-Andre Fleury's goaltending partner.

Thibault is scheduled to earn $1.5 million and, because of his age, would have been entitled to a two-thirds buyout worth $1 million.

The Penguins also have goalie Dany Sabourin under contract for another year, although his contract pays a reduced salary in the American Hockey League. Goalie Andy Chiodo's contract is up, and it's not known if the Penguins plan to re-sign him.

Developing situation

University of Minnesota forward Phil Kessel, who went to Boston with the No. 5 choice in the first round, believes the national development program is responsible for the large number of quality prospects from the United States in this draft.

"You can tell that USA Hockey ... is going to be a great organization for years to come," Kessel said. "The national developmental program helps a lot."

Draft trades

The Avalanche traded left winger Alex Tanguay to Calgary for defenseman Jordan Leopold and two draft picks in a draft-day deal between Northwest Division rivals. Tanguay, 27, was Colorado's second-leading scorer last season with 78 points on 29 goals in 71 games. Leopold played in 74 games for the Flames last season and had two goals and 18 assists.

The Thrashers traded center Patrik Stefan, their first draft pick, and defenseman Jaroslav Modry to Dallas for center Niko Kapanen and a draft pick minutes before the beginning of the draft. Stefan was the first overall pick for the expansion team in 1999. Modry led the Thrashers' defensemen with 38 points -- seven goals and 31 assists. Kapanen had 14 goals and 21 assists for Dallas last season.

The Boston Bruins traded goalie Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the rights to goalie prospect Tuukka Rask. Raycroft won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2004 when he was 29-18-9 with a goals-against average of 2.05. Rask, 19, who is from Savonlinna, Finland, was Toronto's first-round pick, 21st overall, last year, but has not yet played in North America.

The Wild acquired star forward Pavol Demitra from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for their first-round pick, 17th overall, in the entry draft as well as prospect Patrick O'Sullivan.

Local player drafted

Mike Weber, a Cranberry native, was taken by Buffalo with the 57th pick. Weber is a 6-foot-2, 199-pound defenseman who left the Seneca Valley School District after ninth grade and has been playing with Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League.

Slap shots

Washington winger Alexander Ovechkin, honored as the NHL's rookie of the year Thursday, was chosen to announce the Capitals' selection of Swedish forward Nicklas Backstrom with the No. 4 pick in the draft. ... North Dakota forward Jonathan Toews, taken by Chicago with the third choice in the first round, said players picked in previous years cautioned him about trying to project who would claim him, based on how his pre-draft interviews went. "They were drafted by teams that showed absolutely no interest in them," Toews said. Of course, the Blackhawks had been expected to take Toews. ... Although the draft is over, Penguins GM Ray Shero's schedule won't get any lighter for a while. His next stop is the American Hockey League's summer meetings in Hilton Head, S.C.

Dave Molinari can be reached at 412-263-1144.


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