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WAIVER DRAFT PUTS LAFONTAINE DEAL ON HOLD

Any trade involving Buffalo Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine is on hold until after the completion of Sunday's NHL Waiver Draft.

Rosters were frozen as of 2 p.m. Wednesday as teams prepared their lists of players -- 18 skaters and two goalies -- protected from the draft. The lists were due to be submitted by 4 p.m.

"There is nothing new and there is no deal," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said of the LaFontaine situation. "We continue to work on resolving Pat's situation."

Regier did not deny or confirm there were ongoing negotiations between the Sabres and New York Rangers over a trade that would send LaFontaine to New York.

When asked if there were any roadblocks in ironing out the LaFontaine matter, Regier replied:

"I don't think they are roadblocks. I think we're moving along cautiously and somewhat in an effort to try and work together here. I met with Don Meehan (LaFontaine's agent) after the game (Tuesday night) in Toronto. We continue to discuss a number of things, which, I think, is good. At least the dialogue is continuing."

Regier denied that there was any pressure to get something done with LaFontaine before the roster freeze.

"No," Regier said. "We're not that far down the line, despite reports, gentlemen. A lot of teams have called me, but I want to emphasize this is something we need to move forward with Pat and Don on a resolution."

Regier would not disclose the preliminary list of players protected from Sunday's waiver draft but said that goalie Steve Shields is one player exempt from the draft. That means the Sabres can protect goalie Andrei Trefilov and Dominik Hasek if they choose to and not have to risk losing Shields.

A number of players with limited or no NHL experience are exempt from the draft.

The first round of the waiver draft will involve only those teams that did not qualify for the playoffs last season. Boston has the first choice. All 26 teams can participate in subsequent rounds. The Sabres have the 21st pick in the subsequent rounds. No team may lose more than three players.
An estimated 150 or so spectators watched the Sabres' open practice at Marine Midland Arena Wednesday. Practices at the arena usually are closed to the public.

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