NORFOLK -- Goalie Steve Valiquette has been assigned to the Hampton Roads Admirals by the New York Islanders and will serve as backup to Jason Saal this season.
The Admirals waived Corwin Saurdiff to make way for Valiquette. Saurdiff, who four years ago became the first ECHL goalie to score a goal, is expected to play for Columbus (Ga.) of the Central Hockey League.
Valiquette, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound native of Ontario, was 16-7-3 with a 2.56 goals-against average for Erie (Pa.) of the Ontario Hockey League last season. . Drafted eighth in the 1996 entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Valiquette was signed by the Islanders as a free agent.
``He's a big, young goalie,'' Admirals general manager and assistant coach Al MacIsaac said. ``We expect him to learn a lot from Jason Saal's experience.''
Valiquette would have been assigned to Roanoke, New York's ECHL affiliate, but the Express declined to waive Dave Gagnon or Daniel Berthiaume, veteran goalies with NHL experience.
Tipped off that New York was seeking a place for Valiquette, MacIsaac has been talking to the Islanders for weeks. That the Admirals developed NHL goalies Olaf Kolzig, Byron Dafoe and Patrick Lalime made Norfolk an attractive option for the Islanders.
``The Islanders have a lot of faith in our organization, based on our past experience with goaltenders,'' MacIsaac said. ``They'd like to think he could turn out to be another Kolzig. He's the same size and same style as Olie.''
MacIsaac said Saurdiff took the news well.
``We had an understanding . . . that I could not tell an NHL team no,'' he said. ``We told him in advance that this was a possibility. We're still friends and wish Corwin well.
``He wanted to play here, but now he'll go to a league where he can make more money.''