The latest on Brendan Shanahan and Mats Sundin

November, 29, 2008
We are told the Chicago Blackhawks are suddenly making a serious push for Mats Sundin.

According to sources, Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon met with the star free agent Friday in Los Angeles. The 37-year-old would certainly fill their hole at center.

But right now, the Hawks are cap-strapped. They would have to move goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his $6.75 million salary before having any chance at signing Sundin. But at the very least, we're told their interest is not a joke.

Vancouver, Montreal, the Rangers and the Blackhawks appear to be the front-runners at this point. The Canucks are still the favorite given that they're the only team in that group that already has the cap room.

The Sundin camp will cut down the short list in early December with the aim of getting him signed in mid- to late December.

Once and for all, you can forget about Sundin returning to Toronto.

"I don't think we profile as a team that he's going to sign with," new Leafs president and GM Brian Burke said Saturday during his introductory news conference. "If it was just for money, he's already turned down $20 million [from Vancouver]. I think this guy's got $2 less than God already and I don't think he needs the dough.

"He's going to go somewhere where he thinks they have a chance to win based on my conversation with him. I don't think we profile as a team he's going to sign with. Not yet."

And elsewhere ...
• Brendan Shanahan remains without an NHL home. The St. Louis Blues want him, but word is he wants to remain closer to his family in New York City. The Philadelphia Flyers would work, and they still like him, but cap problems are stopping them from being able to proceed.

• There's lots of speculation on the future of Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish in Edmonton, but a high-ranking source in the organization told us he's safe ... for now.

• Once the Atlanta Thrashers get goalie Kari Lehtonen back and healthy again, it's possible they'll begin to shop him at some point. He's a restricted free agent after this season (he's earning $3 million). Rookie netminder Ondrej Pavelec is the real deal. The Thrashers would look for help at center should a team be interested in Lehtonen.

• Despite the fact the Caps are hammered by injuries right now, we are told they still plan on moving center Michael Nylander. He's earning $5.5 million this season, $5.5 million in 2009-10 and $3 million in the last year of his deal. He no longer fits into their plans.

• The New York Islanders told 19-year-old center Josh Bailey he's staying in the NHL and not going back to junior. "We told him on the plane last night," Isles GM Garth Snow told on Saturday. "He's deserved it ... especially when you consider he missed most of camp with a strained hip flexor and missed the first month of the season.

"If anything, the feeling was he'd be so far behind that a logical place for him to play would probably be junior. But he played so well when he got in here and got better and better with each game. And he's getting plenty of ice time."

Flatley joins the NHLPA
The NHL Players' Association made an interesting acquisition this week. The NHLPA has hired former NHL player Pat Flatley, who worked with the NHL operations staff, mostly with the alumni, for the past 10 years. He'll be the assistant director of player affairs and will serve as Glenn Healy's right-hand man, looking after player and on-ice issues. The hope is Flatley will help in building a better bond between the NHLPA and alumni players.

It's not every day the NHLPA lures over a league employee, so this one will have some people buzzing a bit.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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