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JULY 1999

The Philadelphia Inquirer (By Tim Panaccio) -- July 09, 1999

He just might be the Flyers' first genuine "find" of the '90's. Not many players drafted with the 22d overall pick make it to the NHL as teenagers.

Simon Gagne could be the exception.

Certainly, the Flyers think so. General manager Bob Clarke has said for months that he believes Gagne has had enough seasoning in juniors and that the 19-year-old center will likely be in a Flyers uniform in the fall.

It may not be that simple, though.

The Flyers and Gagne's agent, Bob Sauve, are far apart on the issue of bonus money on a three-year contract. Sauve said talks have broken down and might not resume for weeks. And Gagne isn't sure that he is even ready for the NHL. Put it this way: He seems less certain than Clarke.

Yesterday in Voorhees, Gagne was among 17 prospects taking part in the club's annual skating clinic, which runs through Wednesday. "He was a pretty good skater when he came last year," said Peggy Ward, one of the skating instructors. "But everyone can improve."

Gagne dazzled the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with 50 goals in 61 games. He led the Quebec Remparts in goals, assists (70) and points (120), but his coach, Guy Chouinard, was emphatic that Gagne needed another year of development before moving to the NHL.

"I don't know if I do," Gagne said when asked if he needed another year of seasoning. "I have another year left. I'll come to camp and stay with the big team as long as I can. I am just 19. If I am not ready, I have another year left in juniors and can go back with the Remparts.

"I wasn't invited to their big camp last year; I only went to the rookie camp. I don't know if I can play with the big guys yet. My object is to stay around as long as I can right now."

The good news is, Sauve isn't going to hold Gagne out of camp for a contract.

"Simon will attend camp even without a deal," the agent said. "We're not really close right now - at least, not close enough to make a deal happen. I guess it has to be expected. It's still early yet."

Sauve said Gagne would play during the exhibition season but wouldn't play after that if a deal didn't get done.

The Flyers are believed to have offered Gagne three years at the NHL rookie maximum of $975,000 per season. Gagne and Sauve said that bonuses, which can easily reach millions, are holding up the deal.

Gagne was the 22d pick, and if the Flyers give him a multimillion-dollar bonus clause, it raises the salary bar for all late first-round picks. If Gagne gets $1 million in bonus money, this year's first-round pick by the Flyers, goalie Maxime Ouellet, is going to want the same deal. After all, he was drafted 22d as well.

Most late picks don't get that kind of money. Then again, Gagne has shown that he probably should have been drafted higher than he was. Clarke said recently that no one could have projected that Gagne would be an impact player or would dominate a league as he has in juniors.

Gagne cringed when asked if he was a dominant player.

"I don't want to say I dominated the league this year," he said. "I had a very good year in juniors and at the World Championships. . . . There are a couple of steps in between to play in the NHL. I don't know how to treat that. September will be my first NHL camp, my first experience with the big guys. I'll know more then."

Simon Gagne in Orange and Black?
Electric Ice (By CJ) -- July 8, 1999

Flyers are one step closer to signing 19 year old Center Simon Gagne.

He is only 19 years old but already Simon Gagne has all the makings of a true hockey genius. He is fast, accurate and young. The Flyers are cultivating a younger team and Simon Gagne appears to be at the top of their list. The Flyers say that they are close to signing this gifted Center but nothing is in writing yet. Simon Gagne will skate with the Flyers during their Exhibition games but if his tenure is to exceed that the Flyers will actually sign him to a contract.

The Flyers havealready offered Gagne a 3 year contract at maximum salary allowed for a rookie of his status, $975,00 per season, but Gagne's people are haggling over a bonus agreement. He is holding out for a multi-million dollar bonus clause. Since Gagne is a late pick (22nd overall) contracts amounting to anything more are rare. If the Flyers agree to terms with Simon Gagne it will mean that they may have to match this salary with other late draft picks. After an impressive juniors career this gifted center may play for the NHL Flyers as soon as this fall, according to their General Manager Bob Clarke. During his juniors career Simon played with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. While with the Quebec Remparts he registered 120 points and 70 assists. Gagne was a Flyers 22nd overall draft pick. The Flyers are working fevourishly to come to a contract agreement with Gagne.