The Philadelphia Flyers locked up Canadian junior gold medallists Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Wednesday as NHL clubs rushed to get their 2003 draft picks signed.

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday to sign their 2003 draft picks or have those players go back in the draft Saturday in Ottawa.

Carter was the 11th and Richards the 24th overall pick in the draft two years ago.

Carter played four seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League and starred with the Canadian junior hockey team, having been named to the all-star team at the last two world junior hockey championships.

The six-foot-three-inch, 183-pound native of London, Ont., played with the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, when his junior season ended and he led them to a Calder Cup championship with 12 goals and 11 assists in 21 games.

Richards, a five-foot-11, 185-pound forward from Kenora, Ont., also played on the AHL champion Phantoms last season after his Kitchener Rangers were eliminated from the OHL playoffs.

Richards, captain of the Canadian junior team, had seven goals and eight assists in 14 AHL playoff games.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed, though Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said recently that Carter and Richards deserved to sign contracts for the maximum salary they could earn under the new collective bargaining agreement.

For 2003 draft picks, that is $942,400 US a year and up to 30 per cent of that can be negotiated as a signing bonus.

with files from Canadian Press