When the phones opened at noon ET on Monday, free-agent center Mike Modano was a popular guy and heard serious inquiries from at least six teams.
"Everybody but Dallas,'' he told ESPN.com in a phone interview Monday night.
He said his clear preference is to stay with the Stars, who tied down defenseman Sergei Zubov with a three-year deal worth $12 mil.
Modano has had serious inquries from Phoenix, Minnesota, Boston, Edmonton, Atlanta and Chicago. A report from RDS.ca had the Bruins as the front-runners with the team prepared to make an offer as soon as Tuesday.
The offers from all the teams range from $18-$23 million over four years.
If Modano wound up in Boston, the Bruins would likely have to deal Joe Thornton to remain under the new salary cap.
Modano would stay in Dallas for $15 million over three years. The Stars want him to stay, but they have limited cap room and have flexibility at center with Jason Arnott on board.
"It's not the money with Mike,'' a league source said. "It's the terms.''
Meaning length of contract. Modano believes his age bothers Dallas. "I'm 35,'' he said, "but so is Zubie.''
And Zubov got a three-year deal. But as one scout said, "Zubie's a different 35 than Mike.''
That was a compliment to Modano, who willingly absorbed far more contact in his career than Zubov, who let longtime defensive partner Derian Hatcher handle the rough stuff.
If Dallas doesn't fit, Modano's second choice apparently is Phoenix, where his pal and ex-Stars teammate Brett Hull is signed for two years. Another attraction in Phoenix is the chance to play for owner Wayne Gretzky, who might also coach the team.
"But I think they're out of it (for Modano),'' said one scout.
Tom Wheatley, co-author of Bob Plager's Tales From The Blues Bench, is a contributor to ESPN.com.