Agent for Toews, Kane meets with Hawks; NHL still looking into Pronger, Hossa, Luongo deals

September, 27, 2009

Before I make my way to Helsinki, Finland, to join the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers, here are a few nuggets from some weekend phone calls. Enjoy, puckheads.

Phil Kessel fallout

The Los Angeles Kings were the mystery team that made a late and very serious push to acquire the winger, making an offer that apparently the Bruins thought long and hard about. In the end, however, it's believed they were not ready to pay Kessel the $27 million the Leafs gave him over five years. But good on Kings GM Dean Lombardi for making a push. It shows he believes his window for winning is now beginning to open and he's ready to add some talent, if possible.

Toews and Kane

Agent Pat Brisson of CAA Sports quietly traveled to Chicago this week and started preliminary talks with Hawks GM Stan Bowman regarding star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane -- both restricted free agents at end of the season. The speculation has already started that one or both players would be obvious offer-sheet targets come July should Chicago not have them under contract.

The Hawks will have tough decisions to make -- too many good players, but not enough cap space. Of course, it beats the alternative -- lots of cap space, but not many good players!

NHL still investigating ...

Just because you haven't heard much about it lately doesn't mean the NHL has backed off on its objections over the contracts signed by Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger and, more recently, Roberto Luongo.

A source told this weekend that the league is still investigating all three deals. An outside law firm was hired to handle the work, which includes asking for documents, phone records, etc. What the league is looking for is any kind of evidence that the teams and agents in question conspired to purposely circumvent the collective-bargaining agreement. In other words, did they tack on some bogus years with low salaries at the end of those deals in order to bring down the average yearly cap hit?

In my mind, it'll be tough to prove. But the league is doing its due diligence. If there's any proof of wrongdoing, the ultimate penalty would be voiding the contract, although other penalties include large fines (up to $5 million) and potential loss of draft choices. The fly in the ointment for the league is that the NHL Players' Association would object to all of this and the situation would end up in arbitration before anything is done. But again, that's only if the investigations dig up anything.

Here are the breakdowns of all three deals:

Roberto Luongo
2009-10: $10 million
2010-11: $6.716M
2011-12: $6.714M
2012-13: $6.714M
2013-14: $6.714M
2014-15: $6.714M
2015-16: $6.714M
2016-17: $6.714M
2017-18: $6.714M
2018-19: $3.382M
2019-20: $1.618M
2020-21: $1M
2021-22: $1 (he'll be 43 years old in April of that season)

Chris Pronger
2010-11: $7.60M
2011-12: $7.60M
2012-13: $7.2M
2013-14: $7M
2014-15: $4M
2015-16: $525,000
2016-17: $525,000 (he will be 41 in October of that season)

Marian Hossa
2009-10: $7.9M
2010-11: $7.9M
2011-12: $7.9M
2012-13: $7.9M
2013-14: $7.9M
2014-15: $7.9M
2015-16: $7.9M
2016-17: $4M
2017-18: $1M
2018-19: $1M
2019-20: $1M
2020-21: $1M (he will be 42 in January of that season)

NHLPA update

The union's executive board (30 player reps) reconvenes on a conference call Monday, the first since they fired executive director Paul Kelly late last month in Chicago. "It could get ugly on that call," said one source. Some reps, notably Chris Chelios and Shawn Horcoff, have voiced their concern over how the Kelly firing went down. It should be an interesting conversation.

There's also another conference call Oct. 4. At some point on either call, one expects the reps will also likely discuss what kind of person they should look for when replacing Kelly.

Meanwhile, elections for new player reps have begun; teams have until Oct. 31 to elect their reps. This is significant because Chelios, an unrestricted free agent, will lose his spot on the executive board unless he finds an NHL home very soon and becomes that team's rep. Right now, he's still acting as the Red Wings' rep for another month.

NHLPA suspension appeal

The union has appealed the suspension to Islanders forward Pascal Morency. He received five preseason games and five regular-season games for jumping off the bench and going after Flames star Dion Phaneuf earlier this month. The union's beef is the CBA states a five-game maximum suspension for phone hearings with the league (in this case, it was a phone hearing). The appeal hearing will be held sometime this week and heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Forsberg's future

Peter Forsberg is slated to play his third game for Modo in the Swedish League on Monday, but it may be his last one with them. That's because any player who plays a game in Europe past the start of the NHL's regular season must then clear waivers if he wishes to return to the NHL. Forsberg, who had yet another foot surgery in May, has no clue at this point whether or not he'll attempt an NHL comeback, but he might as well keep the option open for now.

KHL proposal

According to a source, the Kontinental Hockey League raised eyebrows last week at an IIHF meeting when it introduced a proposal to expand over continental Europe by welcoming one or two top teams from all the leagues. The motion was quickly rejected by the European federations, but it's a clear signal of the grand plans the Russian league still hopes to achieve.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer


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