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McKenzie: How many marquee free agents will hit open market?

Bob McKenzie
6/29/2009 6:48:25 PM
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With less than 48 hours until the NHL free agency period begins, the first big question is how many of the marquee free agents will even get to the open market.

Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis has flown to Sweden to make a last-ditch attempt to keep Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the Canucks' fold. Marian Hossa has to decide whether he will accept Detroit's non-negotiable offer of an annual cap hit of less than $5 million. The Chicago Blackhawks have offered Marty Havlat a raise on his $6 million salary but only on a one-year deal. Havlat wants to stay in Chicago but only on a long-term deal, even if it means taking a pay cut to do it. Chicago, though, may not have the flexibility to get it done.

As for Marian Gaborik, the fifth of the 'fab five free-agent forwards' who could command upwards of $6 million or $7 million per year, he is the best bet to be there on July 1.

On defence, the Flames can probably work their salary cap to sign Jay Bouwmeester but if only Jaybo can live with the Dion Phaneuf salary cap of $6.5 million because no one on the Calgary blueline is going make more than that. And Montreal's negotiations with Mike Komisarek are likely to go down to the wire.

Those seven players - eight, I suppose, if you allow for the possibility of Scott Niedermayer not returning to Anaheim - are sure to be the hottest commodities on July 1 ... if they get there.

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