Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Noonan Agrees to Blues' Offer Deal with Ex-Ranger Is Worth $2.8 Million over Three Seasons

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Noonan Agrees to Blues' Offer Deal with Ex-Ranger Is Worth $2.8 Million over Three Seasons

Article excerpt

New York Rangers general manager Neil Smith hoped to browse the National Hockey League's unrestricted free-agent supply this summer.

But that bin quickly was picked over by the Blues' high command. Shortly after Buffalo Sabres center Dale Hawerchuk signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Blues, Rangers winger Brian Noonan agreed to a three-year, $2.8 million deal.

"If you show up five minutes after the store opens, they're in a Blues' uniform," a mopey Smith was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

Noonan's signing could be made official today. A third unrestricted free agent, former Blues left winger Geoff Courtnall, also could be under contract shortly.

The Blues offered him about $6.6 million over three years to jump from the Vancouver Canucks; by Sunday, they were negotiating the fine print.

There's more. General manager and coach Mike Keenan may pull goaltender Grant Fuhr and former Blues center Peter Zezel off the scrap heap as well. They also are unrestricted free agents.

As he accumulates a surplus of quality forwards, Keenan has some interesting trade possibilities. With Esa Tikkanen and Geoff Courtnall at left wing, he could put Brendan Shanahan (who clashed with him all last season) back on the trade block.

Keenan denied that Courtnall's arrival would ensure Shanahan's departure, but the Blues have only so many minutes and dollars to distribute among their wingers. Shanahan is by far Keenan's most marketable player, probably the only bargaining chip he could use to get a cornerstone defenseman.

By adding Fuhr, the Blues would push free-agent goaltender Curtis Joseph further out the door - although Fuhr hasn't been a full-time goaltender since 1991-92. In his 14 National Hockey League seasons, Fuhr has played more than 48 games only three times.

The Blues have offered the rights to Joseph around the league, but few teams are looking for goaltenders and even fewer are looking to add big salaries.

Here is a quick look at the new, or possibly soon-to-be-new Blues:

- Courtnall, 6 feet 1, 195 pounds, age 32 - Fans still are howling about the deal that sent him, Sergio Momesso and Cliff Ronning to the Canucks late in the 1990-91 season. …

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