Friday, June 1, 2001
By ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun
Highly touted defenceman Christian Chartier might eventually sign a
contract with the Edmonton Oilers, but not until he tests the NHL
market as an unrestricted free agent.
The Oilers have until 5 p.m. today to sign the 20-year-old Prince
George Cougars rearguard, voted defenceman of the year in the WHL
this season, or he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and sources
close to talks between the team and agent Pat Morris indicated last
night Chartier is leaning heavily toward letting the deadline pass
and taking offers from other teams.
"We've had an offer presented by Edmonton and we're going to review
it overnight," said Morris, who would not confirm Chartier will test
free agency. "It's in our court and we have to react to it.
"At this point in time, nobody knows where the market place is on
him. We won't know until after the deadline (today)."
Chartier, a native of St. Lazere, Man., drafted 199th overall by the
Oilers from the Saskatoon Blades in 1999, had an outstanding season
with the Cougars, scoring 12-56-68, elevating himself to blue-chip
prospect status despite being a seventh-round pick.
The question now, how much is he worth? That's something Morris
won't find out if he accepts the Oilers offer by today's deadline.
Letting the deadline pass and testing the market doesn't preclude
Chartier from signing with the Oilers at a later date.
TALKS BEGIN: The Oilers have opened contract negotiations with agent
Don Meehan regarding forward Jani Rita, the team's first-round pick
in 1999, and defenceman Alexander Ljubimov, taken 83rd in 2000.
"We want to get them signed," Scott Howson, assistant to GM Kevin
Lowe, said last night. "We certainly hope we can make some progress
toward getting that done."
AROUND THE RINK ... Lowe, Howson and vice-president of hockey
operations Kevin Prendergast began interviewing prospects for the
2001 Entry Draft in Fort Lauderdale June 23-24 yesterday in Toronto
and will conduct 40 interviews through Saturday ... The Oilers intend
to meet with Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk, rated the top European
player and a prospect many teams rate ahead of Jason Spezza of the
Windsor Spitfires, the player ranked No. 1 overall by Central