Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|3 августа 2006
Maxim the latest to hit it big // Buffalo News
By TIM GRAHAM
Darcy Regier, that weary banker, signed off on another big payout and perhaps breathed a sigh of relief. That long line of players with outstretched hands is getting shorter, and the Buffalo Sabres general manager can finally see an end in sight.
The Sabres on Tuesday avoided going to salary arbitration with leading scorer Maxim Afinogenov, giving the Russian winger a three-year deal worth $10 million.
"The biggest thing for us is the three-year deal," Regier said. "With the way the new collective bargaining agreement is and the way arbitration is, it makes a lot of sense for a hockey club to lock up someone like him.
"He was our leading scorer, and we feel he's only going to get better. He's going into the prime of his career. To know we have him under contract for the next three years is a good feeling."
Buffalo had a league-high 12 players elect arbitration, and Afinogenov's signing leaves fourth-line winger Adam Mair as the lone remaining case Friday. The club has four other unsigned NHL regulars: goalie Ryan Miller, forwards Daniel Briere and J.P. Dumont, and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin.
Briere and Dumont already had their arbitration hearings. Briere was awarded $5 million. Dumont's judgment is expected today. The Sabres have 48 hours after Mair's arbitration award is announced to accept a given ruling or let that player become an unrestricted free agent.
Afinogenov's signing gives the Sabres 16 players under contract at $29.3 million. That's about how much they spent on their entire payroll last season. If they were to accept Briere's arbitration verdict, they would have less than $10 million left under the salary cap to sign everyone else.
"We still have some decisions to make before we get to training camp," said Regier, who's still trying to move backup goalie Martin Biron's $2.128 million salary. "It continues to be a work in progress. After [Mair's arbitration ruling] we'll sit down and see exactly where we are."
Afinogenov, who will turn 27 next month, is coming off a breakthrough campaign in which he amassed 73 points. He will make $3 million the first season of the deal and $3.5 million in each of the other two. He made $1.086 million last season.
"He's very happy in terms of the commitment the team was willing to make and knowing that he will remain a Sabre," said Afinogenov's agent, Don Meehan. "In my own personal opinion, the Sabres were very fair and very competitive in terms of this deal."
The breathtaking speedster, pegged as a goal scorer since he was drafted in 1997, matured into an all-around offensive contributor, becoming the first Sabre since Pat LaFontaine in 1995-96 to have 50 assists. Afinogenov never had more than 22 assists before.
"He has accepted that he is a good playmaker," Regier said. "That has added value to him as a player. When he was younger, he was doing everything he could to score goals. Now he accepts that he can make plays. That's the sign of maturity, the sign of a player that's growing."
Afinogenov's newfound unselfishness helped him attain career highs with 22 goals and 51 assists in 76 games. His 11 goals and 30 points on the power play ranked second only to co-captain Chris Drury.
But Afinogenov disappeared for long stretches in the playoffs. He had three goals and five assists in 18 games, the same stats as defensive-minded winger Mike Grier.
Still, the Sabres expect Afinogenov to become even more of a force.
"I think he's a player that's ready to take a step from where he was last season," Regier said. "It's evident when a player develops into one looking at a team perspective and less from an individual perspective. I think Max falls into that category."
The Sabres on Tuesday also announced their six-game preseason schedule. They will play only once in HSBC Arena, unveiling their new logo and uniform colors in the preseason finale Sept. 30 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tickets will go on sale Sept. 1.
The first exhibition game will take place Sept. 18 at Toronto followed by games Sept. 19 at Columbus, Sept. 22 at Ottawa, Sept. 23 against the Penguins at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ont., and Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh.
Tickets for the game in Hamilton already are on sale through Ticketmaster in Canada or by calling (905) 527-7666.
Страничка Максима Афиногенова
на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
20 марта. Максим Афиногенов: "На Олимпиаде сыграл
ниже своего уровня" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
23 января. Форвард «Буффало» Максим Афиногенов: С
нетерпением жду начала белых игр // "Советский Спорт"
20 марта. Максим Афиногенов: "На Олимпиаде сыграл ниже своего уровня" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
23 января. Форвард «Буффало» Максим Афиногенов: С нетерпением жду начала белых игр // "Советский Спорт"