From SportsWritersDirect -- August 29, 2000
The Islanders had better not play too many overtime games this
season. They could have players on their roster that will be staying
up past their bedtime.
On Aug. 25, Branislav Mezei became the fourth teenage millionaire to
join the Islanders. The 19-year-old defenseman was the 10th overall
pick in the 1999 draft and is expected to challenge for a job in
training camp, which begins next week in Lake Placid (N.Y.). Last
year, Mezei was one of the final cuts.
Mezei is the last of the Islanders' three top-10 picks from the '99
draft to sign. Taylor Pyatt, selected eighth overall, signed in July,
and No. 5 pick Tim Connolly signed last season after he made the team
out of training camp. Mezei has played the past two seasons with
Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League.
Mezei, a 6-4, 230-pound defenseman, has been on Long Island this
summer participating in informal workouts.
"He is an extremely steady player," Islanders general manager Mike
Milbury said. "We believe Branislav is going to be a fixture on our
blue line for years to come."
Jiri Crha, Mezei's agent, said he was very pleased with the three-
year contract, which is for the rookie maximum of $1.025 million plus
incentives. Crha also represents unsigned restricted free agent
defenseman Roman Hamrlik, so the fact that the Mezei negotiations
went so smoothly could bode well for signing Hamrlik.
Crha is believed to be seeking around $4 million a season for
Hamrlik, less than the $25.5, five-million deal which Sandis Ozolinsh
signed with Carolina this summer. The Isles are believed to have made
a six-year, $20 million offer, which was turned down.
"We can sign today or tomorrow," Crha said, "if the money is right."
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
The Islanders will hold a Bill Torrey Night on Jan. 13 to honor the
GM who engineered four Stanley Cup championships. "In our opinion,
this is long overdue," said Isles co-owner Charles Wang. ... Oleg
Kvasha says he is amused by someone who compared him to former
Florida teammate Pavel Bure: "We're different players," he
said. "He's 5-11. I'm 6-5. We can't be the same player. ... A few
years ago, some people looked at me and said, 'You could be like
Mario [Lemieux].' It's funny. No one in the world is on the same
level as him."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Islanders signed 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman Anders Myrvold on
Aug. 28. The 25-year-old Myrvold was drafted by the former Quebec
Nordiques in 1993 and played 13 NHL games with Colorado and Boston
before returning to Europe. He played the last three seasons in the
Swedish Elite League. "I really missed this brand of game," Myrvold
said. On Aug. 23, the Isles signed 1999 fourth-round pick Juraj
Kolnik, a right wing from junior level Rimouski (QMJHL). With
Rimouski, Kolnik scored 53 goals and 106 points in 47 games and added
10 goals and 27 points in 14 playoff games for the Memorial Cup