Dany Heatley could be traded before July 1, but it's going to take a significant offer from the New York Rangers or the Edmonton Oilers -- the two clubs seemingly most interested in the goal-scoring winger - to get it done.
Sources say the Ottawa Senators do not have a trade offer from those teams, or anyone else, that is deemed worth of acceptance and the list of suitors looks as though it's getting shorter rather than longer. The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings appear to have pulled out of the sweepstakes, leaving the Rangers, Oilers and Sharks as considerations.
Heatley is owed a $4 million signing bonus on July 1. If the Senators pay it, and absent an improved trade they will have to, Ottawa may simply decide to hold onto Heatley in spite of his desire to play elsewhere or the post-July 1 acquisition price will go up accordingly and the team getting Heatley may have to take back other players in order for Ottawa to reconcile their accounts.
GOTTA HAB IT
If there is a big-name player available, preferably a centre, via free agency or trade, there's a good chance the Montreal Canadiens are in on him.
Montreal would still love to be able to do a deal for Tampa's Vinny Lecavalier but, so far, they've been stonewalled in that regard. If the Sedins don't re-sign in Vancouver, the Canadiens are expected to be in hard on them.
Failing that, Montreal might be inclined to take Scott Gomez and his big contract off the hands of the New York Rangers. Or perhaps Danny Briere or Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia Flyers.
And if Martin Havlat doesn't end up back in Chicago, he'd be another prime consideration. Havlat, by the way, desperately wants to remain in Chicago as a Blackhawk. Desperate enough to a take a pay cut on his $6 million salary if it's on a long-term deal, but the Hawks, so far anyway, have offered him a raise but on a one-year deal.
With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews slated to come out of entry-level at the end of next season, Chicago doesn't have a lot of long-term flexibility, even for a player who was the Chicago fans' choice as top forward and team MVP.
Cap space is precious. The Canadiens have it and a strong desire to add at least a couple of top six forwards. That's presuming of course that they re-sign Alexei Kovalev and restricted free agents Tomas Plekanec and Chris Higgins. It certainly looks like Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang won't be back in Montreal, but that may also depend on whether they land any big fish.
NET GAIN FOR LEAFS?
Like Montreal, the Toronto Maple Leafs have oodles of cap space and prime roster spots available. But Toronto's immediate needs are fairly specific.
GM Brian Burke seems less interested in the big-money, big-contract "skill" guys, although the Sedin twins, if available, will no doubt be at the top of the Leaf list. But failing that, the Leafs are more likely to "bulk" up with Burke-type players. That type of player could include tough guy Colton Orr of the New York Rangers or maybe Chris Neil from the Ottawa Senators.
It's difficult to imagine Toronto having any interest in trading for netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his $6 million salary from the Anaheim Ducks. When the Leafs lured Anaheim goalie coach Francois Allaire to Toronto, many thought it a precursor to a deal to get Giggy with it. But it's too much money, give Vesa Toskala's $4 million salary and the fact the Finnish goalie will be given an opportunity to nail down the No. 1 spot this season.
The Leafs, along with the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche, are awaiting word on whether free-agent Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavssson has made a decision on where he'll sign. Originally, the decision was expected by today or tomorrow, but that may drift until later in the week.
Scott Niedermayer has indeed informed the Anaheim Ducks that he will play next season in the NHL, but it's not yet carved in stone that it will be in Anaheim.
Most seem to feel when all is said and done he'll return to where he's been comfortable these last few years, but we shouldn't necessarily assume it's guaranteed. You know what they say about "assume." Do it and there's a chance to make an *** out of you and me.