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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Latest rumblings: Habs busy, Leafs talking trade, Ducks and Wings figuring out cap picture


MONTREAL -- Is there an NHL GM with more on his plate than Bob Gainey?

The man at the helm of the Montreal Canadiens has 10 players headed for unrestricted free agency next Wednesday: Mike Komisarek, Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, Alexei Kovalev, Robert Lang, Francis Bouillon, Mathieu Dandenault, Patrice Brisebois, Tom Kostopoulos and Mathieu Schneider.

The clock is ticking.

"I've been in touch with everybody on that list of players in some way or another over the last 2-3 weeks," Gainey told ESPN.com on Thursday afternoon. "Some of them more than once. … Komisarek is the only one that I will have a direct negotiation with right now. Everyone else has been told that we're waiting through the draft until next week and then I'll get back to them and see how our roster for next season might look or change between now and Sunday or Monday."

There have already been preliminary talks between Gainey and Komisarek's agent, Matt Keator, and the two are slated to meet here Friday. Schneider told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside on Thursday his agent, Pat Morris, has also been in touch with Gainey and the two sides will chat again. Gainey is also scheduled to talk with Koivu's agent, Don Baizley, and Tanguay's agent, Bob Sauve, after the draft.

"We can't bring everybody back," Gainey said. "We have three or four young players who we project on our team. So we don't have 10 spots available on our team, but there's four or five important spots that we want to fill as best we can."

• A guy nearly as busy as Gainey is Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who was burning up the phone lines again Thursday trying to make something happen.

"Working on multiple aspects here," Burke said via e-mail. "Discussing straight player trades, working on three draft scenarios -- move up, pick, move down."

Later Thursday evening, Burke told assembled media "things heated up pretty well today."

Burke received an offer for veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle, which grabbed his attention, calling it "unexpected and unsolicited."

"We have to take it seriously," added Burke, who said he immediately called four other teams to alert them to the offer.

A source told us that Atlanta is among the teams interested.

Burke also shot down one rumor that he was trying to acquire Rangers blueliner Wade Redden and his $6.5 million salary. "I don't know where that got started," Burke said. "We're not in discussions on that player."

As we've discussed before, if the Islanders don't select John Tavares with the No. 1 pick, we believe Burke will spring into action to try to get Tampa's second overall pick. If that doesn't work out, we think Burke could also try to move up to Atlanta's No. 4 pick in an attempt to draft Brayden Schenn, the younger brother of Leafs blueliner Luke Schenn.

Speaking of which, Burke confirmed Luke Schenn is untouchable and that Tampa Bay has asked for the defenseman in any deal for the No. 2 overall pick.

"The only name that Tampa's expressed interest in is Luke Schenn and he's not going anywhere," Burke said. "That probably leaves us out on the top two picks, but we'll see."

• Nothing much new on the Dany Heatley front, meanwhile.

"Unfortunately, nothing has changed," Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray said via text message Thursday afternoon. "A couple of conversations only."

• One name that has suddenly popped up on the trade front is Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks. The power winger is a restricted free agent July 1, and two NHL GMs told ESPN.com Clowe is available.

• The Anaheim Ducks could be players here this week, but, at this point, they still don't have an answer from Scott Niedermayer on whether he's playing next season or not. That complicates things for Ducks GM Bob Murray. Or does it?

Regardless of Niedermayer's decision, it's clear the Ducks would rather move goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the $13 million over the two years on his deal than trade away star blueliner Chris Pronger. But if the Ducks can't move Giguere this summer and Niedermayer returns … the Ducks need to cut payroll somehow and somewhere, which leaves Pronger. I think Murray will do his very best to move Giguere first because he doesn't want to lose Pronger.

Giguere has a no-trade clause, but a source told ESPN.com on Thursday that the goalie has given the Ducks a list of teams he would be willing to go to. We'd be surprised if Toronto wasn't among them.

• Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland continues to talk with Marian Hossa's agent Ritch Winter, but, as of Thursday, still doesn't have a deal for the pending UFA star winger.

"Until I know what the [salary] cap is, I'm sort of in a holding pattern," Holland told ESPN.com on Thursday. "We're challenged. We've made some commitments to keep players on our team. It starts to add up after a while. Ritch knows the challenge we're up against. I'd like to keep him; Marian has been a very good player. But can we keep him? I need to know what the cap is, and then Ritch and I will talk."

• The number crunchers for the NHL and NHL Players' Association actually met Thursday in New York to agree on the final number for next year's salary cap. A source told ESPN.com the players voted in favor of the 5 percent inflator, so the cap will likely be in the $56 million range and could be officially announced as early as Friday.

Once the cap is official, Holland can figure out whether Hossa fits or not.

• It doesn't appear that Ian Laperriere fits into Colorado's plans. The veteran winger will be a UFA on Wednesday. He's the kind of guy who will draw some sizable attention on the free market, a tough customer who can also play the game and score a few goals.

"I've had a few conversations with [Avs GM] Greg Sherman and we're going to talk again, but it's not looking promising at this point," Laperriere's agent Pat Brisson told ESPN.com on Thursday.

• And finally, we've been hearing for weeks that former Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough was on the short list for the vacant GM job in Florida. Lo and behold, there was Risebrough sitting at a table at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday with veteran hockey man Bill Torrey, who is running the search for the Panthers. Hmm …