Major Trade Talks and Contract Negotiation Updates!

Trade rumours surrounding the future of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin are starting to heat up again.

Reports that Khabibulin wanted out began to surface after he was replaced by backup John Grahame for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against New Jersey.

While general manager Jay Feaster said he had spoken at length with the disgruntled goalie and the situation was resolved, NHL sources tell the Tampa Tribune Khabibulin is being shopped around as part of a cost-cutting measure.

Khabibulin is scheduled to make $4.4-million next season and there is a team option for $6.5-million in 2005.

Feaster denied that he is offering the goaltender up in trade talks or that the team’s payroll is being slashed.

Also…

Contract talks between the New York Rangers and free agent defenceman Brian Leetch remain stalled.

The New York Post says little progress was made in talks between general manager Glen Sather and Leetch’s agent Jay Grossman towards a new deal on Monday. It’s believed the Rangers have offered a two year deal worth $10-million.

Last season, Leetch earned $9.68-million as part of a four year, $32.72-million deal.

Leetch, who has been with the Rangers for 16 seasons, can become an unrestricted free agent next month. However, at 35 years of age, he is not expected to draw much interest.

Leetch has indicated a strong desire to remain in New York, saying he would be willing to waive the no-trade clause in any new deal and its believed he would give the Rangers the right to match any deal he might receiver via free agency.

Lastly…

Igor Larionov has turned down a one year, $1-million contract offer from the Detroit Red Wings.

Larionov, who will turn 43 in December, earned $1.5-million last season with Detroit.

He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July but is not expected to attract much interest. Larionov has said he would consider returning for another season with Detroit.

“That’s where he’d like to play,” agent Don Baizley tells the Detroit News. “Beyond that, we haven’t thought too much. It would be fair to say he’s thinking about playing another season right now.”

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