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Tverdovsky and Ducks Close In on New Contract

Hockey: Anaheim could sign its 24-year-old defenseman to a multimillion-dollar deal this week.


The Mighty Ducks and standout defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky are believed to be close to agreement on a new multimillion-dollar contract. The deal could be completed this week, according to a league source.

Tverdovsky, 24, made $1.7 million last season. Money apparently isn't as much of a hold-up as the length of the contract. It's believed the club would prefer a longer deal and Tverdovsky and his agent, Don Meehan, would like a shorter one.

"The only progress report I will make is after it's done," said Pierre Gauthier, team president and general manager. "I won't make any public comments."

Gauthier did acknowledge that it is "important to explore all scenarios. . . . We understand we have to be fiscally responsible, but not cheap. We'll pay fair market value."

Don't look for Tverdovsky to receive the sort of five-season, $25.5-million contract the Carolina Hurricanes gave defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, however. Ozolinsh, 28, was the NHL's eighth highest-scoring defenseman with 52 points last season with the Colorado Avalanche. Tverdovsky was ninth with 51 points, including a career-high 15 goals.

"There are a lot of factors, including experience and winning a Stanley Cup," Gauthier said when asked if Ozolinsh's contract set a new standard for offensive-minded defensemen. "[But] every contract has an impact on other players in the league."

Gauthier also is working on a new deal for Matt Cullen, who faces a difficult challenge to keep his job as the Ducks' second-line center after free agent German Titov was signed this summer to a three-year, $4.5-million contract.

"We're confident we can get these guys signed by the start of camp," Gauthier said. Training camp begins Sept. 9 at the team's Anaheim training facility.

In other news, plans are being finalized for an open-house practice for local school children Sept. 12 at the Arrowhead Pond. The Coyotes will host the Kings in the "Faceoff Against Tobacco Cool Coyotes Field Trip," an 11 a.m. exhibition game for Phoenix-area children Sept. 14 at America West Arena.

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