Florida will be aggressive; calls heat up

June, 21, 2010

I hope I don't go on the DL with strained thumbs this week. It is sounding like I'll be burning the keys off my BlackBerry.

As I get ready to head to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning for the NHL awards and a car ride Thursday morning to Los Angeles with Scott Burnside for the NHL draft, the buzz around the league is palpable.

It's going to be a hectic week, it would appear.

That's certainly the hope in Florida, where new Panthers GM Dale Tallon plans to be very aggressive this week as he begins what he aims to be a serious reshaping of his team.

"We've got a lot of work to do, as simple as that. It's a big week," Tallon told ESPN.com on Monday morning. "We're going to be busy, I hope."

The name of center Nathan Horton has been the most mentioned over the weekend, and that's natural since he'd be the most coveted player out of Florida. He has three more years left on his deal at $4 million per season.

While Tallon declined to discuss specific names, another source told ESPN.com Horton is far from the only name on the table and it's open season in Florida. If it's a good offer, the Panthers will listen. They want to stockpile draft picks but also remain competitive. Tallon doesn't want to bottom out, which is why he'll likely keep veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun.

In Toronto, the Maple Leafs' phones are ringing more loudly of late regarding Tomas Kaberle, the team's most salable asset.

"We have received several offers we have had to discuss, and expect another today," Leafs GM Brian Burke told ESPN.com on Monday morning. "Nothing we have received to date meets our requirements."

Still, the interest and offers are getting more serious, which is what you'd expect as you we get closer to the draft this week. The poker faces turn to real offers. Toronto needs a legitimate top-six forward in return for Kaberle.

In New Jersey, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello wasn't happy with a first-round playoff exit, so changes have already begun. For starters, he reacquired center Jason Arnott in a deal with the money-saving Predators on Saturday.

"We're going to try to do the things we need to do to get us where we need to be," Lamoriello told us Monday.

Arnott's addition doesn't preclude the Devils from trying to re-sign star winger Ilya Kovalchuk or top defenseman Paul Martin, who are both set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

"We're not going to get off course there. We're going to continue to talk to them," Lamoriello said.

But with Arnott's $4.5 million salary on the books, cap space will be tight.

"We still have to do what we have to do to make this team better," Lamoriello said. "I don't feel a lot of changes have to be made, but we have to make the math work."

I still think Kovalchuk is headed to the market, but he and agent Jay Grossman will likely keep the Devils in mind after seeing what's out there July 1.

And finally (for now), Wade Arnott, the agent from Newport Sports who represents defenseman Dan Hamhuis, told us Monday he expects to hear from Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren later in the day. The clock is ticking as the Flyers try to sign Hamhuis to a contract before he becomes UFA July 1. The Flyers rolled the dice Saturday in giving up young blueliner Ryan Parent in exchange for Hamhuis' rights.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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