Versteeg in play; latest on Gonchar, Pens

June, 25, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks might not be done with their salary-cap cleanup just yet.

Four NHL GMs told on Friday that Kris Versteeg remained in play.

"Yes, he is for sure," one GM said.

"But they're asking the moon for him," added another GM.

While the Hawks cleared more than $5 million in cap space after their blockbuster deal that sent Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel to Atlanta on Wednesday, they still have to re-sign two key restricted free agents in goalie Antti Niemi and top-four blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson. Both players will get raises.

So, keep an eye on the Blackhawks once again.

Nos. 1 and 2

A quick follow on the Edmonton-Boston trade conversation I reported earlier today. Despite being told "no" by the Bruins, a source told at 1:30 p.m. PT that the Oilers keep pressing the issue for the second overall pick and are determined to try to get both top picks.

Gonchar talks in trouble

Ran into Sergei Gonchar's agent, J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, around 1:45 p.m. PT. He again met with Penguins GM Ray Shero but reported absolutely no progress. Barry did not want to elaborate further, but clearly term remains an issue; Pittsburgh wants to do only two years, while Gonchar wants three years.

The 35-and-over rule in the collective bargaining agreement makes it a scary proposition for the Pens to go to three years. I'm told the Gonchar camp might be willing to do two years, but only if the money goes up, and that also remains a stumbling block. If Gonchar hits the market, I think he becomes the most attractive defenseman available if you can get him on a two-year deal. His transition and puck-moving skills remain all-world.

Panthers, revisited

New Panthers GM Dale Tallon remains active in his conversations. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Blues were looking at maybe acquiring Keith Ballard from Florida. When asked a Panthers source about Ballard being in play, the source responded: "They're all in play."

The Ballard deal could happen on the floor. Vancouver, St. Louis and other West teams in on it.

From draft floor

• Devils GM Lou Lamoriello just told us there is nothing new to report on the Paul Martin front.

• Quick update on the Jason Spezza trade front: Sens GM Bryan Murray told via text message around 12:30 p.m. PT there was nothing new to report.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?