According to sources close to the team, Olaf Kolzig
, winner of the Vézina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie in 2000, has signed with the Berlin Eisbären. He had originally put off playing in Europe during an NHL lockout. But now that it becomes more and more obvious that the league will not play at all this season, he is gearing up for a stint in Germany.
"We would be his first choice if the NHL season is cancelled", said Berlin's GM Peter John Lee, a former NHL player. "Olaf needs competitive action as he wants to represent Germany in the IIHF World Championships in Austria this May."
Kolzig's arrival would move Harvard alumnus Oliver Jonas to the number two spot. Jonas, who is in his first season as starting netminder, is currently ranked 6th among DEL goalies with a .916 save percentage, two shutouts and a goals against average of 2.44.
Kolzig, who was born in South Africa as the son of German parents, has represented Germany in world championships and Olympic Games, but has never played in a league game in Germany at any level. Jean Sebastien Giguere
, who backstopped the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago, said to the LA Times that he was close to signing a deal with the Hamburg Freezers.
Hamburg's current starter Boris Rousson, a 7-year DEL veteran, currently ranks 7th in the league with a .915 save percentage, two shutouts and a GAA of 2.55. Although he has struggled a bit recently, Rousson is known as a playoff goalie. The two-time DEL Playoff MVP backstopped the München Barons to the DEL Championship in 2000.
"The Freezers already made a bad choice in bringing in Jimmy Dowd (who left for undisclosed reasons after a couple of weeks)", one DEL insider said. "Now they're about to make another one. Not that Giguere is a bad goalie. Hamburg has needs in all areas - but goaltending."
Added Hamburg's GM Chris Reynolds in a TV interview Thursday: "We are allowed to sign one more import player. There are a lot of potential candidates out there. We'll wait until we make a move."
They have a little over two weeks to observe the market and see if the 2004-05 NHL season will be cancelled. The annual trading deadline in the German Elite League was extended from January 31 to February 15.