Unless someone pulls a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute, Mats Sundin will be, by the end of this week, either a Vancouver Canuck or a New York Ranger.
Sundin met with Rangers' GM Glen Sather on the weekend, but sources say the Rangers have yet to formally indicate exactly how much they are prepared, or able (because of the salary cap), to pay Sundin. Once Sundin's agent J.P. Barry gets that information, perhaps in the next 24 to 48 hours, Sundin is expected to make a final decision on where he will play.
Barry has a previously-scheduled meeting with Vancouver GM Mike Gillis on Tuesday, primarily to discuss contract negotiations for Canuck players Daniel and Henrik Sedin as well as Mattias Ohlund, but Sundin is also likely to be discussed at that time.
Sources say the plan is for Sundin to make a final decision before NHL rosters are frozen on Friday (Dec. 19).
There had been speculation that Sundin had already made his decision and that he was about to sign with the Rangers, however Barry dismissed the rumours.
"No decision has been made," Barry told TSN. "(It is) inaccurate speculation."
It does not appear that any of the other teams that had expressed interest – Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal and Tampa Bay, amongst others – are either in a position to move forward or have a strong desire to pursue Sundin any further.
So it looks as though it's coming down to the Rangers and the Canucks. The Canucks have no salary cap issues and have already offered Sundin a contract at an annual salary of $10 million. Once Sundin finds out how much less than that he would get in New York -- and it may be significantly less if the Rangers are even able to clear salary cap room for him -– he'll be in a position to compare it to the Vancouver offer and make a long-awaited decision.
In the meantime, Sundin is heading home to Sweden. He has completed his training in North America and plans to keep skating while in Sweden, spending Christmas there before joining his new NHL team immediately after that.
Or at least that is the plan.