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Staal to become family’s third big-league skater

(CP) — Marc Staal is about to become the third big-league skater in his family.

Staal, 20, is a six-foot-four defenseman who was drafted 12th overall in 2005 and who played junior hockey in Sudbury (OHL). He survived the New York Rangers’ final cuts from training camp, and is expected to make his NHL debut this week when the 2007-08 season opens.

Marc joins brothers Eric (Carolina) and Jordan (Pittsburgh) as members of the Thunder Bay, Ont., family skating in the NHL.

Marc had five goals and 29 assists in 53 OHL games last season. He made his professional debut with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack in 2005-06, recording two assists in Calder Cup Playoff games.

Other moves as teams tried to reduce to or beyond the league-maximum limit of 23 players on Monday:

> Ottawa assigned to its Binghamton, N.Y., AHL team forwards Denis Hamel, Alexander Nikulin and Ilja Zubov and defensemen Brian Lee and Lawrence Nycholat. Goaltender Brian Elliott, who joined Binghamton late last season out of the University of Wisconsin, will back up Martin Gerber in Ottawa as Ray Emery continues rehab on a surgically repaired wrist.

> Montreal announced that forward Maxim Lapierre, defenseman Ryan O’Byrne and goaltender Jaroslav Halak have been assigned to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. That left goaltender Carey Price and centers Kyle Chipchura and Mikhail Grabovski on the roster for the opener at Carolina on Wednesday. Price has been pegged as Montreal’s goalie of the future since being the club’s first pick, fifth overall, in the 2005 draft. The 20-year-old was the MVP of the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs for Hamilton. Chipchura, a first-rounder in 2004, had 12 goals and 27 assists as a rookie pro with the Bulldogs last season. Grabovski, 23, had 17 goals and 37 assists with the Bulldogs last season.

> Vancouver assigned to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose defensemen Luc Bourdon and Patrick Coulombe and forwards Mike Brown, Jannik Hansen, Michael Grabner, Jason Jaffray and Rick Rypien. Defensemen Nathan McIver, who spent the last two seasons with the Moose, and Alex Edler, a Swede who played his first 22 NHL games last season, are among 24 players still on the Canucks roster. Mason Raymond, who debuted with the Moose last spring, is another new face in Vancouver.

> Toronto assigned Jiri Tlusty to the Toronto Marlies. Tlusty broke into the pro ranks with the Marlies last season.

> Detroit assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and forwards Igor Grigorenko, Mattias Ritola, Johan Ryno, Darren Helm and Evan McGrath.

> Boston assigned defenseman Matt Hunwick, center Petteri Nokelainen and center Nate Thompson to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Left wing Jeff Hoggan was placed on waivers; if he clears, he’ll also go to Providence. David Krejci, a standout rookie in Providence last season, is on Boston’s 23-man roster to begin the season.

> Pittsburgh reduced its roster to 22 by assigning defensemen Kris Letang and Mike Weaver and forwards Jonathan Filewich, Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stone to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL.

> Buffalo assigned forwards Mark Mancari and Marek Zagrapan and defenseman Michael Funk to the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Mancari has spent his last two seasons in Rochester. He had 23 goals and 34 assists last season and came close to cracking the Sabres’ lineup this autumn.

> Chicago sent forwards Jack Skille, Dave Bolland and Petri Kontiola and defensemen Cam Barker and Karel Pilar to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Barker, the third overall pick in the 2004 draft, split last season between the NHL and AHL. Skille, a big right wing out of the University of Wisconsin, was Chicago’s first pick and seventh overall in 2005.

> The New York Rangers sent goalie Al Montoya and forwards Artem Anisimov and Nigel Dawes to the Hartford Wolf Pack. They also placed defenseman Andrew Hutchinson on waivers for reassignment to Hartford. Defenseman Dan Girardi, who got into 34 games with the Rangers last season, made the team, as did Staal and center Brandon Dubinsky.

> Dallas assigned left wing Chris Conner to the AHL’s Iowa Stars.

> St. Louis assigned forward Martin Kariya to the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen.

> Colorado assigned forward Cody McCormick to Lake Erie of the AHL.

> Tampa Bay assigned defenseman Bryce Lampman and forward Kyle Wanvig to their affiliate in Norfolk. Both cleared waivers Monday. Forward Mathieu Darche also cleared waivers and will remain with the Lightning.

> Washington re-signed forward Tomas Fleischmann, who split his last two seasons between the NHL and AHL. The Capitals assigned forward Ben Clymer and defenseman Jame Pollock to the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

AHL teams must submit their opening-night rosters to the league office by Tuesday night at midnight (ET).