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The cost of free

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

MONTREAL - Senators GM Bryan Murray tried in vain during draft weekend to peddle left winger Dany Heatley.

The reasons Murray failed were the $4 million bonus owed Heatley on July 1 and the Ottawa GM’s reportedly steep asking price from interested teams.

According to the Ottawa Sun, Murray sought Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson plus the Kings’ first round pick (fifth overall); Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brent Burns from the Minnesota Wild; and Marc Staal and either Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan from the Rangers.

With next season’s salary cap only marginally higher than 2008-09 at $56.8 million, Heatley’s $7.5 million per season salary is also proving a trade obstacle.

Murray had previously stated if he couldn’t trade Heatley by July 1 the winger wouldn’t be moved at all, but that sounds more like a bluff from a GM who knows he’s not dealing from a position of strength.

Teams that lose out in this summer’s bidding wars for the top free agent forwards could turn to Heatley as an alternative, but Murray might have to lower his asking price to get a deal done following July 1.

• Flames GM Darryl Sutter made a shrewd move in acquiring defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s rights during the draft, giving himself several crucial days to negotiate exclusively with the ex-Panther’s camp prior to free agency.

It remains to be seen, however, if Sutter can make Bouwmeester a Flame by July 1. His agent dismissed an Internet rumor over the weekend claiming the Flames offered up $6.3 million per season, saying negotiations hadn’t even begun.

It remains to be seen what it would take to keep the Alberta-born Bouwmeester in Calgary, but it’s possible he’d take slightly less than market value for a long-term contract.

• It’s not looking good for the Sedin twins’ chances of remaining with the Canucks. Various reports heading into the final days prior to July 1 claim negotiations between the Sedins’ agent and Vancouver GM Mike Gillis appear bogged down.

The Sedin camp sent Gillis identical 12-year, $63 million proposals with a cap-friendly hit of $5.25 million each per season, but he apparently hasn’t made any counter-offer above the five-year, $5.5 million per season he offered months ago.

If the twins hit the market on July 1, they’ll attract considerable interest. The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Wild and Kings are reportedly interested in the pair, who may be the best available forwards on the open market.

Various reports noted Gillis has flown to Sweden – coincidentally on the same flight as their agent, J.P. Barry – to talk directly with Henrik and Daniel in hopes of getting a last-minute deal done.

• The Red Wings aren’t having an easy time re-signing pending UFA winger Marian Hossa. The Detroit News reported Monday talks had stalled between the two sides and suggested his rights could be shopped in the dying hours before free agency begins July 1.

GM Ken Holland is believed to have offered Hossa an eight- to 10-year, front-loaded contract worth a cap-manageable $4.5 million, but the Hossa side is reportedly seeking more than $6 million per season.

With the Wings having limited cap space for 2009-10 they could not only lose Hossa, but won’t be major players in the free agent market, either. Holland’s focus would instead turn to re-signing key free agents Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson.

• Reports over the draft weekend of an apparent failed deal that would’ve sent young winger Phil Kessel from the Bruins to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Tomas Kaberle has cast Kessel’s future with the Bruins into doubt.

Boston GM Peter Chiarelli declined to comment on the reports, but it appears contract talks between he and the Kessel camp are not going well.

Chiarelli has about $6 million in available cap space, which doesn’t leave much to re-sign Kessel, who could be worth between $4-5 million, and fill out the rest of the roster.

Kessel is a restricted free agent and if unsigned by July 1 it’s possible the Bruins could lose him to a rival club via an offer sheet, receiving only compensatory picks in return.

As for Kaberle, the Maple Leafs could find interest in the veteran blueliner increasing now that Chris Pronger and Jay Bouwmeester are off the market.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke expects he’ll get more offers for Kaberle later this week, but warns it’ll take a significant offer to land him.

Kaberle has a no-trade clause, but because the Leafs missed the playoffs Burke has a narrow two-month window in which to move him without the blueliner’s consent.

• Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier’s expensive new contract with its no-trade clause takes effect on July 1, but it’s becoming less likely he’ll be traded.

Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton continues to insist he’s seen nothing from rival teams that would prompt him to move Lecavalier.

In other free agent news:

• Nik Antropov may have priced himself out of the Rangers market. The New York Post reported his agent is seeking a multi-year deal worth $5.5 million per season.

• The Detroit Red Wings won’t be re-signing free agent goaltender Ty Conklin and will instead promote Jimmy Howard from the farm to backup Chris Osgood next season.

Maybe Conklin will be signed by the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers, two of the participants in next season’s NHL Winter Classic. To date he’s the only player to have played in every outdoor NHL game since 2003.

• Veteran Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek will be heading toward this summer’s free agent market. Sabres GM Darcy Regier offered Spacek a one-year contract, but the blueliner wants a multi-year deal.

• The Thrashers could look at improving their roster via trade rather than free agency. GM Don Waddell has depth in goal and suggested possibly shopping either Kari Lehtonen or Ondrej Pavelec.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.



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