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Devil of a day

New Jersey agrees to terms with free-agent forwards

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Posted: Monday October 25, 1999 09:32 PM


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Restricted free-agent forwards Patrik Elias and Brendan Morrison abandoned their bids for $1 million a year contracts and reached tentative agreements with the New Jersey Devils on Monday.

Neither party would disclose terms of the contracts that won't be signed until the players are deemed by the team to be in condition to play in a regular-season game.

There have been reports that Morrison will get a one-year deal worth $500,000. Elias reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $650,000 annually, double what he made last season when he had 17 goals and 33 assists. Morrison had a base salary of about $400,000 last year when he had 13 goals and 33 assists.

Both players missed the first eight games this season.

Once Elias and Morrison sign, the Devils will have to clear two places on their 23-man roster. That presents a problem because New Jersey only has three players -- Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski and Sergei Nemchinov -- who don't have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. Gomez and Rafalski are playing well.

Neither Elias nor Morrison wanted to say much about their holdouts in a telephone conference call Monday.

Both were Group 2 free agents, meaning New Jersey had the right to match any offer they received. However, if they didn't match, the Devils would have received from one to five first-round draft picks as compensation, with the number determined by the size of the contract.

"I try not to look at it as a win-lose situation," the 24-year-old Morrison said. "Basically all I want to say now is I've accepted the deal and I'm ready to move forward."

Both players felt they would be ready to play this weekend. New Jersey's next game is Wednesday at home against St. Louis.

"I really don't feel like saying much until I sign the contract," Elias said.

The breakthrough in talks came on Sunday night when their agents called Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and asked for face-to-face talks Monday.

Lamoriello met with each player individually and the tentative agreements were announced shortly after that.

Elias and Morrison played briefly in the Czech Republic in September in an effort to stay in shape. They have been working out at Montclair State University for the past week.

A former University of Michigan player, Morrison won the Hobey Baker Award in 1997 as the top college player. Last season was his first full one in the NHL.

Elias has 37 goals and 55 assists in 166 NHL games.

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