Tuesday rumblings: Heatley-to-Oilers deal? Things put on hold

June, 30, 2009

NHL Rumor Central

Get all the latest trade talk and free-agency buzz right here at Rumor Central.

• NHL Rumor Central

12:35 a.m. ET (it's not Tuesday anymore!): Heatley deal on hold for now

Sorry, puckheads, I'm going to bed. I am sure we'll hear more Wednesday on Dany Heatley.

But what we do know as of 12:30 a.m. ET is he was still an Ottawa Senator because he had not waived his no-movement clause to facilitate a deal to the Edmonton Oilers.

The two clubs had a tentative deal in place that would have seen Dustin Penner as the key Oiler going the other way for Heatley, who asked for a trade in early June.

As I said, we'll find out more Wednesday. Check back then for more free-agency buzz as we count down to noon ET.

11:15 p.m. ET: Heatley talks heating up between Senators and Oilers

It appears things have heated up on the Dany Heatley front between the Senators and Oilers, but still no deal as of late Tuesday night.

"Nothing to report," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told ESPN.com when I reached him via cell phone around 11:10 p.m. ET, refusing to add anything else at the time.

A source in the Ottawa front office had said much of the same a few minutes earlier.

Still, where there's smoke, there's fire. Sources confirmed that both teams were talking Tuesday night. Dustin Penner is the key Oiler who would be going the other way for Heatley, who asked for a trade in early June.

Of course, Heatley needs to give any deal his blessing because he has a no-trade clause, and that might be causing a delay in the deal.

Stay tuned.

• The Calgary Flames got Jay Bouwmeester to sign on the dotted line, so I wondered whether the Florida Panthers were having any luck with Jordan Leopold?

"Not yet," Panthers interim GM Randy Sexton said in an e-mail to ESPN.com late Tuesday night.

Sexton acquired Leopold's rights in the deal that sent Bouwmeester's rights to Calgary on Saturday. Regardless of what happens with Leopold, Sexton did well in getting a third-round pick in exchange for Bouwmeester, given that it was clear the defenseman wasn't going to sign with the Panthers.

10:15 p.m. ET: Blackhawks still haven't reached deals with Havlat, Khabibulin

Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin remained unsigned by the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night.

A source with knowledge of the Khabibulin situation said that the two sides were still talking but that it looked more and more as if the veteran goalie is headed to the free-agent market.

As for Havlat, a source said there was "still a chance yet" to reach a deal, but the noon ET start of free agency is quickly approaching.

9:35 p.m. ET: Gomez trade hasn't sparked Heatley-Rangers talks (yet); Hossa likely headed to market

It doesn't appear as though the Rangers' trade of Scott Gomez has ignited any further talks with the Ottawa Senators on the Dany Heatley front.

A source told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that all is quiet on the Rangers' front as GM Glen Sather and his front office awaited the start of free agency Wednesday (noon ET), when he'll have money to spend now after moving Gomez's big contract to Montreal.

I really like what Sather has done so far -- just finding someone to take on that big contract is amazing to me. But I think Chris Higgins will bounce back and Ryan McDonagh is a really nice blueline prospect. Plus, the Rangers can add a big offensive piece with the cap savings.

So, what now with Heatley?

You might have seen in my last Heatley posting that I mentioned Edmonton. The Oilers have been looking for a goal-scoring winger to play with playmaker Ales Hemsky for quite some time. The Oilers have been keeping tabs on the Heatley situation since the beginning and, from what we're told tonight, they're the leading contender to get him right now. Let's see if Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and Sens GM Bryan Murray pull it off.

• Hossa update: The clock is ticking and Marian Hossa still hasn't re-signed with the Red Wings. Right now, it looks like he's headed to free agency.

"It appears that way," Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com via text message at 9:30 p.m. ET.

9:10 p.m. ET: Why Oduya's signing matters

On a day with plenty of news on the eve of NHL free agency, Johnny Oduya's new deal with the New Jersey Devils won't get much attention nationally.

But consider the jump in his bank account next season. Faced with losing a 27-year-old blueliner in the prime of his career to unrestricted free agency Wednesday, veteran Devils GM Lou Lamoriello put his money where his mouth is to make sure Oduya didn't jump ship.

We're talking $10.5 million over three years for a guy who made $600,000 this past season. Welcome to the world of liberalized free agency. He had a career-high 29 points (7-22) with a plus-21 rating in 2008-09, the kind of puck-moving, all-around blueliner teams just can't get enough of. But they don't come cheap ... or stay cheap would be more like it.

When I spoke with Lamoriello this past weekend at the draft in Montreal and pointed out he had nine UFAs, he quickly mentioned Oduya as being a priority given his age and position.

Mission accomplished.

Oduya's contract numbers:
2009-10: $3.0 million
2010-11: $3.5 million
2011-12: $4.0 million

5:40 p.m. ET: Rangers trade Gomez, free up cap space

The New York Rangers suddenly have room under the salary cap to make a major acquisition -- or two.

With Scott Gomez and his $7.35 million cap hit gone to Montreal, Rangers GM Glen Sather could be a player on several fronts. He's talked to the Senators about Dany Heatley several times over the past two weeks and now he's got room to get him if a deal can be struck.

During a media conference call minutes ago, I asked Rangers GM Glen Sather, without spelling out Heatley by name because he can't talk about another team's player, if Tuesday's deal could possibly open up things for a trade later Tuesday night.

"That's certainly possible," Sather said. "Since this deal has happened, I've had three calls. It doesn't take very long for people to recognize that you're going to make some changes."

Hmm ...

One team not in the running for Heatley is the Los Angeles Kings, a source told ESPN.com tonight.

More later.

4:05 p.m. ET: Sedin twins still mulling offer; Scuderi apparently set to test market

The latest from Stockholm at 4 p.m. ET (10 p.m. over there): "Status quo" was what agent J.P. Barry said in an e-mail as his clients, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, contemplate Tuesday's last-ditch contract offer from the Vancouver Canucks.

• A note from Pittsburgh, where a source told ESPN.com it appears that defenseman Rob Scuderi, who was terrific in the Penguins' Stanley Cup run, likely will see what's out there on the open market Wednesday.

3:30 p.m. ET: Agent says Komisarek will test market

Here is the official statement from Matt Keator, the agent for Mike Komisarek:

"After much discussion and thought, Mike Komisarek has decided to enter the free-agent market tomorrow at noon. Should they desire, we intend to keep Montreal involved in the process as they have treated Mike so well during his time in the organization. He remains interested in re-signing with them."

2:47 p.m. ET: Hurricanes forwards Cole, LaRose headed for open market

It looks as though Carolina Hurricanes forwards Erik Cole and Chad LaRose, as well as blueliner Dennis Seidenberg, will all hit the unrestricted free-agent market Wednesday.

"Dennis Seidenberg, we had decided a while ago that we weren't re-signing," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told ESPN.com today. "In Erik and Chad's case, it doesn't look as though we'll be signing them either."

Rutherford would like to bring both Cole and LaRose back, but without getting into specifics, it's clear the contract he had in mind for each player was quite different than what they wanted. "That's correct," said Rutherford.

Cole made $4 million in a very inconsistent year last season. LaRose made only $875,000 last season while producing a career-high 19 goals, so, in his case, I don't blame him for trying to max out on what may be the best season of his career.

If Cole and LaRose both leave, does that mean the money-conscious Hurricanes dip into the free-agent pool to replace them?

"I won't be real proactive early. I mean, I'll certainly take calls from agents and be open to see what's out there, but I also think that being patient at a time like this can still work out fine," said Rutherford, one of the game's top GMs. "So we'll see what happens in the early going."

2:28 p.m. ET: Recchi among some Bruins likely headed for free agency; what's next for Kessel?

Veteran forwards P.J. Axelsson, Mark Recchi and Stephane Yelle are among the Boston Bruins who will hit unrestricted free agency Wednesday unless there's a last-minute agreement.

"I don't expect any signings today," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said on a media conference call Tuesday.

That doesn't mean he doesn't want some of them back.

"I have said to a number of our [free agents] that we have to see how things unfold in this period," Chiarelli said. "There are some players that we would like to have back at the right number, and if it's not the right number, then we'll move by them."

More intriguing perhaps is what happens with restricted free agent Phil Kessel. The Bruins haven't been able to lock up the 36-goal winger and a deal with Toronto for Tomas Kaberle fell through over the weekend, so the kid can't be thrilled with the fact he now knows the Bruins tried to peddle him away.

Offer sheet, anyone? It's not as stunning anymore as it used to be. GMs have gone that route more frequently over the past few years, from Thomas Vanek to Dustin Penner to Ryan Kesler to David Backes.

"I'd be less shocked, I guess," Chiarelli said of a possible offer sheet to Kessel. "That's a tool that the other general managers have. I've been on record saying that I would match it and we will. My guess is that there will be overtures at some point, but I have to deal with them as they unfold. At the end of the day, if it's something that we don't feel is prudent, then we're not going to do it. There's a salary structure that's in place and we're not going to stray from it."

What about Kovalchuk?: Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk can officially sign a contract extension as of Wednesday, the same as any player that's one year away from free agency. But in Kovalchuk's case, don't expect a quick announcement. A source told ESPN.com today that there's still work to be done and it could be the kind of thing that takes a while this summer.

1 p.m. ET: Biron prepared to hit market … who needs a goalie?

Martin Biron is less than 24 hours from hitting the free-agent market.

"I'm excited," Biron told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "I think, like anybody else, it's a little bit of the unknown that may unfold tomorrow or Thursday or whatnot. I'm just enjoying today, and tomorrow is going to be pretty interesting to say the least. I'm not going in there like a nervous wreck. I'm going to let my agents do the work, and I'll go with that."

His time in Philadelphia appears over after two-plus seasons.

"Anything is always possible," Biron said. "I mean, we're less than 24 hours away, although I guess something could happen in the next day. I don't know. Unless I get a call that something very drastic has happened, I think we'll be looking to check and see what happens [in free agency]. But you never know; I've seen crazier things happen. I'm open to all options."

Biron has proved himself to be a capable No. 1 goalie, and he's tremendously popular with teammates -- a great character guy. Colorado is one team that has been linked to him. You wonder whether Edmonton would be an option, too.

A source told ESPN.com on Tuesday that veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson likely is headed to the free-agent market Wednesday, leaving the Oilers with a gaping hole in net. Then again, as Biron noted, crazy things can happen in the final hours, and perhaps the Oilers and Roloson will close the gap.

Another player likely headed to free agency is defenseman Francois Beauchemin. The Anaheim Ducks remain interested in re-signing him, but they might not be able to match what he gets on the open market Wednesday. Time will tell.

12:28 p.m. ET: Agent, Sedin twins still in closed-door meeting

Daniel and Henrik Sedin continue to weigh their options in the most critical decision of their NHL careers.

Their agent, J.P. Barry, told ESPN.com via e-mail at 12:25 p.m. ET (6:25 p.m. Stockholm time) that he still was in a closed-door meeting with the twins "reviewing their options" following Vancouver's latest contract offer Tuesday.

Meanwhile, got a text message from Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, who reported "still nothing" on the Dany Heatley trade front. A reminder that the Sens aren't keen on the idea of moving Heatley after paying him a $4 million bonus Wednesday.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland also told us via text message that there was "nothing happening" on the Marian Hossa front. The star winger remains unsigned with the hours slipping away toward free agency (noon ET Wednesday).

11:10 a.m. ET: The latest on Bouwmeester, Sedin talks

One day from the start of free agency, some clubs are making one last-ditch attempt to keep some of their players.

Let's roll around the league and check out the latest. We'll update you throughout the day:

• Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter told the media on Saturday at the draft in Montreal that he would make his way up to Edmonton to meet with Jay Bouwmeester and his agent, Bryon Baltimore, and he did just that Monday.

"It went fine, lots of things to talk about," Baltimore told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We know where the Flames are at. We did a lot of listening. Whether anything happens, time will tell."

It's believed that the Flames will make their formal contract offer sometime Tuesday.

"We'll have some further discussions today," was all Baltimore would say.

Will Bouwmeester sign or hit the free-agent market Wednesday?

"Can't tell you that," Baltimore said. "We'll see how things unfold. We'll have a decision to make."

Meanwhile, Florida Panthers interim GM Randy Sexton was on the phone Tuesday trying to sign Jordan Leopold to a new deal. Leopold's rights were sent to Florida along with a third-round pick in exchange for Bouwmeester's rights.

• The Sedin twins, with agents J.P. Barry and Claes Elefalk, met with Canucks GM Michael Gillis and assistant GM Laurence Gilman in Stockholm on Tuesday. The twins and their camp then bunkered down and were discussing the biggest decision of their careers -- sign Vancouver's latest offer or hit the market at noon ET on Wednesday as unrestricted free agents. Stay tuned.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin's decision will have a huge bearing on Wednesday's market, as Toronto and Montreal, among other teams, are licking their lips at the chance to sign the twins.

• The Chicago Blackhawks continue to talk with the agents for goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and star winger Martin Havlat, UFAs come Wednesday at noon ET.

"You never know what can happen on the last day," Hawks GM Dale Tallon told ESPN.com on Tuesday morning, confirming he's still trying to re-sign both players. "We're still trying to figure it out."

He got one player locked down Monday, signing a rising talent in Dave Bolland to a five-year, $16.875 million deal, which averages out to $3.375 a year. Good job by agent Anton Thun and Tallon to find common ground on a significant deal that will keep Bolland in a Hawks uniform for a while.

"We're happy to get it done; he has a bright future with us," Tallon said. "We're excited to have him in the fold."

• The New York Rangers have been unable to re-sign forward Nik Antropov, and it appears he's going to market. "He's definitely going to hit the market because the Rangers have no space to sign him," Antropov's agent, Mark Gandler, told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

Two sources told ESPN.com that Gandler asked the Rangers for five years at $5.25 million a year, which seems a little rich.

Gandler, by the way, told us that veteran center Alexei Yashin, who had been contemplating a possible return to the NHL, is staying put in Russia.

"Yes, we signed him to a deal with St. Petersburg," Gandler said.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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