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Barry: Montreal was always in the mix for Sundin

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TSN.ca Staff with RDS files
11/21/2008 2:26:29 PM
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Even with winger Alex Tanguay and centre Robert Lang in the fold, it seems the Montreal Canadiens still have an eye for Mats Sundin.

Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey met with the unrestricted free agent centre on Wednesday, a development that was not surprising to Sundin's agent JP Barry.

"Montreal was always a serious contender for Mats services," Barry told RDS reporter Renaud Lavoie on Friday. "They are a very skilled, exciting hockey team, with great fans and one of the best hockey markets in the world."

Barry told TSN that he intends on continuing to talking to the 11 teams who have shown interest in the 37-year-old and expects his client will make a decision on whether to return by the end of December. Barry's next move is to find the serious bidders in the group in the event Sundin decides to return.

Barry expects to join Sundin in California in the first week of December and will work with him to trim the list of 11 down to two or three realistic contenders.

The Canadiens were given exclusive rights to talk to Sundin last summer in the week leading up to the free agent signing period. The club's negotiating window passed without an agreement and as Sundin deliberated on his future, the Habs couldn't wait any longer and acquired Lang - another big centre with a right-handed shot - from the Chicago Blackhawks.

While Lang and Tanguay have put up solid numbers for Montreal, the Canadiens - who had the league's second-best offence behind Ottawa last season - have struggled to score with seven goals in their last five games.

The Canadiens are also roughly $2 million under the NHL's $56.7 million cap and would have to move a lot of salary if Sundin asks for more than the $5.5 million he made last season.

The Vancouver Canucks still have the most lucrative offer for Sundin, with a two-year, $20 million contract that was never pulled off on the table. Sundin's concerns over Western Conference travel are no longer an issue, so the Canucks remain a strong candidate.

Mats Sundin and Saku Koivu (Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
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