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Leafs GM Fletcher hopes to talk with Sundin in next 7-10 days

TORONTO - Toronto Maple Leafs interim GM Cliff Fletcher plans to speak again soon with impending unrestricted free agent Mats Sundin.

"We will be hearing or communicating with him in the next week to 10 days, well ahead of the July 1 free agency date," Fletcher told reporters Tuesday after the unveiling of Ron Wilson as head coach.

The 37-year-old Sundin made headlines May 28 during a presentation at the Stanley Cup final in Detroit when he suggested for the first time that the Maple Leafs weren't his only option going forward.

"I do think that I have a lot of different options I can explore," Sundin said at the time.

He then met with Fletcher in Toronto on May 29 before travelling overseas to Sweden and Spain. The Leafs want to find out from Sundin whether he wants to explore the market or re-sign in Toronto.

"We will know before July 1 what his feelings are," said Fletcher.

The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings are rumoured to be front-runners should Sundin hit the free-agent market July 1. But there will no shortage of interested clubs.

If Sundin tells Fletcher next week he wants to explore the free-agent market, the Leafs could also attempt to trade his rights before July 1 in order to receive some assets before losing him.

One thing's for sure, Fletcher said, Sundin will not retire.

"Whether or not he's said it yet, Mats is going to play next year," said Fletcher. "You don't retire after having the type of year he had last year. It was terrific, his best year in his last four or five. He'll be playing.

"The question is whether he'll be playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think I'll have a pretty good indication."

Sundin blocked an apparent trade to Montreal at the trade deadline last February, using his no-movement clause in his contract, the Leafs hoping to recoup some value in case he walked away July 1. Fletcher raised eyebrows Tuesday when asked whether he would include a no-trade clause in any new deal for Sundin.

"If Mats comes to me and says, 'I'll sign but I have to have a no-trade contract that's a one-year deal,' then he's got it," said Fletcher.

Sundin, who earned US$5.5 million last season, led the Leafs in goals (32), assists (46) and points (78) last season.


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