Lang trade fallout; BOGs to meet Tuesday

September, 15, 2008
One NHL GM told me today he thought the Blackhawks did very well in getting a second-round pick from Montreal for 37-year-old center Robert Lang on Friday.

"That could turn out to be a pretty good pick," said the GM, pointing to the fact Montreal dealt a pick it had originally acquired from Toronto in June. The rebuilding Maple Leafs aren't expected to challenge for a playoff spot.

"And everyone knew the Hawks had to make a move to get under the cap."

While it's believed the Hawks tried for quite a while to move goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to get under the cap, GM Dale Tallon instead dealt Lang (who has one year and $4 million left on his deal). It not only resolved Tallon's cap problems, but also created a roster spot for either Dave Bolland or Petri Kontiola, young centers who the Hawks believe are ready to make the step.

"We want to continue to build from within and give our young guys an opportunity," Tallon told today. "And we also want to look into the future, too, and continue to build through the draft."

The Habs, meanwhile, get the short-term fix they were looking for to bolster their depth down the middle. Lang has scored at least 50 points in eight straight seasons. Montreal just needs to squeeze one more year like that out of him. The window is now for the Canadiens, who finished first in the Eastern Conference last season, and GM Bob Gainey had a decent summer in adding Lang, star sniper Alex Tanguay and premier tough guy Georges Laraque.

Gainey didn't get veteran star Mats Sundin, his No. 1 target, but didn't want to wait until December to sign him, either. So, with the Lang deal, Montreal is out of the Sundin Sweepstakes. I think Gainey made a wise choice. Now his team is set from the start of training camp, with his players not looking at the dressing room door wondering if Sundin is going to walk in and save the day.

"We just made the decision that we had a chance to start the season with a team that we would be happy with," Gainey told today. "We'd had quite a bit of time in contact with Mats Sundin from sometime in June, and there really had not been any indication that we were anywhere in his sights. So the opportunity to make the change with Chicago was there and that was our choice."

What's on the agenda for Tuesday's BOG meeting
The NHL's board of governors convenes tomorrow here in Toronto. I'll have the privilege of standing outside the meeting and trying to run after owners or team executives for a comment afterward. Most of them will try to avoid us media members. It's always a mad scramble.

We were able to get our hands on some details from tomorrow's agenda:

1. There will obviously be an update on the ownership situation in Nashville, the league still reeling from the bank fraud charges laid on part-owner William "Boots" Del Biaggio III. There will also apparently be talk of "preliminary qualification procedures for ownership transfers." I can only translate this as meaning the league wants to somehow set more rigid guidelines for future owners or future franchise sales.

2. Owners will also discuss "new potential franchise markets" from groups who have expressed interest. This is standard at these meetings; it doesn't mean the NHL is planning to expand any time soon. But there will be the usual update from groups interested in Las Vegas and Winnipeg, among others.

3. A discussion of the collective bargaining agreement and the players' union. The NHLPA can opt out of the CBA after this season, although I would be shocked if the players did.

4. An update on the lack of an international player transfer agreement, the league's talks with the IIHF and the goings-on in Russia.

There are other items, as well. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Other moves on the horizon?
Now that Lang has been dealt, it'll be interesting to see if it spurs on more moves.

The Anaheim Ducks have been trying to deal away veteran blueliner Mathieu Schneider all summer long, but still no takers. The 39-year-old is in the last year of a deal that pays him $5.75 million this season. The Ducks need to find cap room if and when Teemu Selanne decides to come back.

Another veteran defenseman believed to be available is 34-year-old Frantisek Kaberle of the Carolina Hurricanes. He's got two more seasons at $2.2 million a year -- not a bad cap number for a decent, two-way defenseman.



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