Staal led league in preseason goals


Carolina Hurricanes: Rookie Eric Staal agreed to a three-year contract Monday after leading the NHL in preseason goals.

Staal, 18, was the second overall pick in the NHL entry draft in
June. He's been playing on Carolina's top line with captain Ron Francis and All-Star Jeff O'Neill.

Staal scored seven goals in seven preseason games, including one in
Saturday's final preseason game, a 3-1 victory over Washington.
Among league rookies, he was tied for first in points with seven.

"Eric has clearly earned a spot on the Hurricanes with his
exceptional play," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "It is
apparent that he will play an important role with the team at a
very young age."

Staal had 62 goals and 98 assists in two seasons with
Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League.

Florida Panthers: The team and 18-year-old forward Nathan Horton, the third pick in June's draft, agreed on a three-year contract Sunday, agent Paul Krepelka confirmed.

The agreement was reported in Monday's editions of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Horton was expected to sign the deal by Monday's midafternoon deadline.

"The deal was reached with the intent of him playing for the Panthers all year long," Krepelka told the newspaper. "It was a long, long day [Sunday]. Concessions were made by both sides, but the bottom line: This is a kid who very badly wanted to play."

According to the paper, Horton will receive the rookie salary-cap maximum of $1.24 million a season for three years, which includes signing bonuses each year at $620,000 and lucrative performance bonuses.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild will honor the memory of Herb Brooks at their home opener Friday night.

A video tribute will be played before the game. Brooks' widow, Patti, and children, Dan and Kelly, will participate in a ceremonial puck drop. A replica gold medal from the 1980 Lake Placid Games -- in which Brooks coached Team USA to an improbable victory over the Soviet Union -- will be mounted near one of the
gates at Xcel Energy Center.

Brooks died in a car accident in August at age 66.

Buffalo Sabres: Promising prospect forward Derek Roy was
one of six players the Sabres assigned to the AHL Rochester
Americans on Monday.

Roy had no points in four games with the Sabres this preseason.
Buffalo's second-round pick in the 2001 draft, Roy capped an
impressive junior career after he was named the Memorial Cup MVP in
helping the Kitchener Rangers win the Canadian junior hockey
championship last spring.

The Sabres also demoted forwards Milan Bartovic, Paul Gaustad,
Artem Kriukov and Norm Milley, and defenseman Doug Janik to their
minor league farm team. Of the six, Gaustad was the only one to
record points this preseason, scoring twice in two games.

The Sabres are down to a 26-player roster, leaving them with
three more moves to make to reach the NHL maximum before their
regular season opener at Philadelphia on Thursday.

Dallas Stars: The Stars assigned defenseman Trevor
Daley to Utah of the American Hockey League on Monday.

The move put the Stars roster at 24 players, still one more than
they can have when the season opens Wednesday night against

Daley, the Stars' second-round pick in the 2002 draft, scored a
goal and had two assists while appearing in six preseason games. He
spent the past four seasons with Sault St. Marie of the Ontario
Hockey League, and had 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 57 games
last season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.