Buffalo, N.Y. — Grand Rapids defenseman Nathan Paetsch pleaded guilty Monday to being part of an illegal sports betting business that took wagers from other players.
Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Paetsch will be sentenced to probation, 400 hours of community service and eight months of home confinement. He also must forfeit $265,000.
He was involved with a gambling operation that took bets through offshore websites, authorities said, placing wagers himself and receiving credit when he recruited fellow players and others to bet.
Two principals of the operation, brothers Mark and Joseph Ruff of Connecticut, were sentenced this year to nine years and just under 3 1/2 years in prison, respectively, after pleading guilty to illegal gambling and other charges.
Paetsch's contract with the Griffins ends at the end of this year and the two sides are discussing an extension, Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said.
The conviction will not affect talks with the defenseman, Martin added.
"Nathan's done a terrific job there helping us to develop our younger players for the Detroit Red Wings," Martin said. "He's a veteran that played in the NHL. He's got a great commitment to off-ice conditioning.
"He's a great role model for those players in terms of being a professional hockey player."
Although the plea agreement requires Paetsch to forfeit $265,000 in lieu of a 2011 BMW and his interests in two homes, in Spencerport, Fla., and Naples, Fla., the amount that he won gambling was much less, Morabito said, estimating it at around $26,000.
Viva Las Vegas
With talk of expansion to Las Vegas percolating, the city welcomes the NHL this week for another awards show while general managers and the board of governors set the league's short- and long-term future.
This is the first time the general managers are meeting in Las Vegas — they previously met at the Stanley Cup Final. The gathering provides an opportunity for trade talk leading to this weekend's draft in Sunrise, Florida.
"Everybody's sort of trying to get a real good solid view of the landscape ahead of each and every one of us heading into the draft," Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney said during a conference call last week. "I think everybody is sort of in the same boat and taking inventory."
On Tuesday, the GMs will learn the salary cap for next season, which Commissioner Gary Bettman projected between $70 million to $71 million. Even that small a range "can make a difference" for cap-strapped teams, Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall said.
No matter where the cap is set, players will be moving. The champion Chicago Blackhawks could look to shed the contracts of Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell while the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to try to deal Phil Kessel. The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks are among the teams with goaltenders to trade.
The Blackhawks may be among the most active teams given the need to sign Brandon Saad to a new contract. They also don't have much cap room to spare.
"I've been thinking of that stuff for a long time," GM Stan Bowman said after his team won the Cup for the third time in six years. "We'll make it work. We've got a plan in place."
At the board of governors meeting Wednesday, rule changes — such as three-on-three overtime and a coach's challenge system — need a final stamp of approval. But the big item is possible expansion.
The board in December allowed prospective Las Vegas owner Bill Foley to proceed with a season-ticket drive. With Foley's Hockey Vision Las Vegas reporting over 11,500 commitments and more for suites, Bettman will take those results to the board.
"If the board has any interest in pursuing it, my recommendation would then be to open a formal expansion process," Bettman said in Tampa, Florida, at the start of the final. "The board may say, 'That's interesting, but we still don't want to do anything.' That's an option."
Kings center Jarret Stoll has been charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance stemming from his April 17 arrest at a Las Vegas Strip pool.
Security guards at MGM Grand's Wet Republic pool complex found what police believed to be 3.3 grams of cocaine and several capsules of ecstasy in Stoll's pocket during a search. The district attorney wouldn't comment on why the charge only included possession.
If convicted, the charge carries the possibility of up to four years in prison or probation if it's a first offense.