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Big names ready to see what the open market will bring

Bob McKenzie
6/24/2008 8:21:36 PM
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It should come as no surprise, but it looks like the NHL's marquee free agents are not going to take themselves off the market before July 1.

Mats Sundin is certainly not encouraging the Montreal Canadiens to visit Sweden for a face to face meeting this week, even though the Habs own his exclusive negotiating rights until July 1. This should not be confused with necessarily discouraging Montreal either.

Sundin just wants more time to think about his future and likely prefers the idea of exploring all his options next week than committing now. And for all the talk that the New York Rangers had permission to talk to Sundin before Montreal, the truth is, it was Sundin's agent who asked the Leafs for permission to talk to the Rangers, who then decided against trying to secure Sundin's negotiating rights. Which, again, should not be confused for the Rangers' lack of interest in Sundin once free agency begins next week.

Marian Hossa seems certain to go to market after not being able to come to terms with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While there were reports the Pens offered a seven-year deal worth $50 million, the reality is they offered a five-year term to Hossa, to tie his future to that of Sidney Crosby, who has another five years left on his contract. The Pens basically offered Hossa a Jarome Iginla-type deal, but Hossa apparently wants to see what the open market will bring.

Ditto for Brian Campbell who has been maintaining dialogue with the San Jose Sharks. But the sense is he will wait until July 1, even though the sharks have granted permission for him to talk to Eastern Conference teams, including Boston, Montreal and Ottawa, before then as he may have personal reasons for wanting to play in the East.

In any case, it sure looks like the big fish will remain up for grabs next week.

Bob McKenzie

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