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Friday, September 9, 2005
McKee signs qualifying offer

Associated Press

Buffalo Sabres: Defenseman Jay McKee accepted his one-year qualifying offer from the team Friday, nearly a month after the NHL-imposed deadline. McKee will earn $1.6 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2006.

The two sides had decided to extend the deadline twice in the hopes of working out a long-term contract, but were unable to do so.

McKee, 28, has steadily climbed Buffalo's defensive ranks after the team selected him in the first round of the 1995 draft, but he has been hampered recently by injuries. The longest-serving member of the team, McKee missed 62 games over the last two seasons due to knee problems. That contributed to the Sabres' reluctance to commit to a longer deal.

The Sabres report for physicals Monday and officially begin training camp Tuesday.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks acquired center Craig Darby from the Tampa Bay Lightning for future considerations.

The 32-year-old Darby had eight goals, 26 assists and 28 penalty minutes in 70 games for the AHL Springfield Falcons last season.

In 196 career NHL games, he has 21 goals and 35 assists.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs signed unrestricted free agent forward Mariusz Czerkawski to a one-year contract.

Czerkawski had 25 goals and 24 assists with the New York Islanders two years ago. He 15 goals and nine assists in 46 games for Djurgarden in Sweden last season.

The 33-year-old native of Radomsko, Poland has played 710 career NHL games for Boston, Edmonton, Montreal and the Islanders collecting 425 points (207 goals, 218 assists) with 264 penalty minutes. He has scored 20 or more goals on six occasions in the NHL.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins traded center Kris Beech to the Nashville Predators for a conditional draft pick.

Beech has 10 goals and 17 assists in 99 career games with the Penguins and Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh acquired him before the 2001-02 season in the deal that sent Jaromir Jagr to Washington.

For the past two seasons, Beech has spent most of his time with the Penguins' American Hockey League farm team in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He had 14 goals and 48 assists for Wilkes-Barre last season, when the lockout wiped out the entire NHL season.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild signed defenseman Clayton Stoner to a rookie contract and left wing Stephane Veilleux to a multiyear contract Friday.

Stoner, 20, had 12 goals, 34 assists and 81 penalty minutes in 60 games with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League last season. The Wild selected him in the third round of the 2004 NHL entry draft.

Veilleux, 23, had 15 goals and 24 assists in 59 games with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League last season. He sustained a season-ending injury against Grand Rapids on March 7. He also played for the Wild in parts of the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. Minnesota selected him in the third round of the 2001 entry draft.

Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.