Why Tanguay is still on the market, the latest on Heatley and what's next for Tavares

July, 10, 2009

NHL Rumor Central

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There's a point-a-game player left on the NHL's free-agency market, but his camp will be patient before making a decision now that the first and second wave of signings have passed.

Alex Tanguay is an immensely talented forward looking for a new home after spending a season in Montreal. He had 41 points (16-25) in 50 games with the Canadiens last season while earning $5.375 million, his season marred by a shoulder injury.

"We're talking to several teams," Tanguay's veteran agent, former NHL goalie Bob Sauve, told ESPN.com in French on Friday. "Lots of teams have expressed interest. We've had a few offers, but not yet something that we want to firm up.

"We're going to take our time," added Sauve. "We're going to wait, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of fit."

Sauve also confirmed the Canadiens were out of the picture. GM Bob Gainey filled up his high-end forward spots with Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri.

"We never heard back from the Canadiens," Sauve said. "Bob told us if we were going to talk again, it would probably be after July 1. Since then, we haven't heard from them, so we moved on."

Tanguay is two years removed from his 81 points-in-81 games campaign in Calgary. He has 580 points in 659 career regular-season games in the NHL and still has oodles of offensive talent.

As we reported earlier, the Phoenix Coyotes are among the teams that have contacted his camp, but given their ownership mess, it's not clear what exactly they could offer. Detroit needs a forward now that Jiri Hudler has gone to Russia, but Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com on Thursday he was looking for someone cheaper, so it doesn't look as though Hockeytown would be a fit for Tanguay.

Perhaps if Ottawa ever trades Dany Heatley, the Sens could come calling? Heck, they signed Alexei Kovalev from Montreal, why not Tanguay?

"You know, obviously you have to like him," Sens GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com on Friday when asked about Tanguay. "But we're not there at all because of the money [salary cap] at this point in time."

Speaking of Heatley ...
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk went on Ottawa radio Thursday and suggested there's always the chance Heatley stays put and plays for the team next season despite his trade request.

That worked out really well for Alexei Yashin last time around.

So what are Heatley's options if the Sens don't move him? Well, he could always stay home and not report to camp, but I'm told he's simply not going to do that. He won't violate his NHL contract. But how do you repair the damage done in that market?

If I'm the Senators, I still seek out a trade all summer long. Murray told us Friday there was nothing new to report on the Heatley front.

The San Jose Sharks had some talks with the Senators a few weeks ago. At this point, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has yet to make the kind of moves we've been anticipating to shake up that roster. Mind you, there's a lot of time before camp opens in September and I've believed all along Wilson has viewed this as a summer-long project.

Still, San Jose just looks like the most promising option for everyone concerned in the Heatley affair. Sharks assistant GM Wayne Thomas is a good friend of the Heatley family, and imagine having Joe Thornton with 50-goal man Heatley at his side? Yikes. But again, Melnyk is angry he had to pay out a $4 million bonus to Heatley earlier this month. Somehow, the Sharks would have to eat a couple of Sens contracts going the other way and that's an issue right now. The re-signings of Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins put the Sharks close to the $58.6 million salary cap as we type.

Food for thought, though.

Scratch Joe off the list
The emotional retirement of Joe Sakic has obvious Olympic ramifications. Scratch his name from the Canadian orientation camp roster for next month in Calgary.

The question is, will he be replaced on the camp roster?

"I'm not planning on adding anybody, but I'm not ruling anything out," Team Canada Olympic GM Steve Yzerman told ESPN.com on Friday. "We'll meet [the Olympic brain trust] next week in Vancouver and talk about it. Obviously, there's some pretty good players that we could consider. ... But we've got 24 forwards and that's a lot of guys. We might just stick with 24 forwards. I'm not sure yet."

Yzerman's concern is giving the coaching staff the best possible circumstances for ideal practice conditions. At 24 forwards, that gives you 12 and 12 on each side since the Canadians will basically have two rosters in Calgary. Then again, maybe they'll come to the conclusion next week that taking a look at an extra body might make sense given the depth of Canada's NHL talent. We'll see.

In the meantime, Yzerman wouldn't bite when I asked him if he already knew about Sakic's decision to retire when he put him on the camp roster a few weeks ago.

"We talked in early May and he hadn't made any decisions at that time," said Yzerman. "I just let him know, 'I'm going to put you on the list anyway, and whenever you decide, we'll go from there.' That's how I left it with him back then."

It was the same tactful strategy Yzerman was going to apply to veteran blueliner Scott Niedermayer had the Ducks star not yet decided on his playing future.

"That's right, I wasn't looking for them to give me an answer one way or another," said Yzerman. "I talked to Scotty and just let him know I didn't need an answer, that we would figure it out after."

This and that
• Now that No. 2 overall pick Victor Hedman has signed his entry-level deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, we wait for No. 1 pick John Tavares to do the same with the New York Islanders. It should be done "within the next couple weeks," a source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Friday.

• Mathieu Schneider was a big boost to the Montreal Canadiens' power play late last season, but the UFA remains unsigned. A source close to the veteran blueliner said Friday he was in serious talks with three teams.

• Every year, you wonder if Russian league star Alexei Morozov will make the jump back to the NHL. But his agent, Jay Grossman, told ESPN.com Friday that Morozov will remain in Russia for next season and likely for the rest of his career.

• A few days after signing goalie Jonas Gustavsson, the Maple Leafs went back to Sweden on Friday after agreeing to a one-year, $800,000 deal with 29-year-old free-agent forward Rickard Wallin. "He had a great world championship," Leafs GM Brian Burke said via e-mail. "We really like this player."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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