NHL News and Rumors – Thursday June 25, 2009

Panthers dangling Bouwmeester

Koivu’s on the outside looking in

Wild ideas about Heatley

Panthers dangling Bouwmeester

Steve Gorten | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Panthers dangling Bouwmeester
If club has its way, you can expect another blockbuster trade at draft

By Steve Gorten | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 24, 2009

The Panthers have made a big splash at the NHL Draft with blockbuster trades the past three years. If they have their way,

they will do so again this week with the draft Friday and Saturday in Montreal.

Panthers Assistant General Manager Randy Sexton and alternate governor Bill Torrey have been on the phone with the league’s

general managers hoping to deal exclusive negotiating rights to Jay Bouwmeester before the All-Star defenseman leaves the

team without compensation as an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Panthers, who hold the No. 14 pick in this year’s draft,

have made trades at the draft throughout this decade, starting with the acquisition of two of the future faces of their

franchise — Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen — in 2000.

Among those interested in Bouwmeester: former Panthers GM Jacques Martin, who was hired as coach of the Canadiens earlier

this month.

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Koivu’s on the outside looking in

PAT HICKEY, The Gazette

With eight days remaining before he can become an unrestricted free agent, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu is in limbo.

Koivu’s agent, Don Baizley, said yesterday that he and Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey have talked, but the club has not

extended an offer.

“Saku would like to stay in Montreal, but we’re waiting to see what the team has in mind,” Baizley said.

Gainey said this week that he has talked with several of the 10 unrestricted free agents on the roster, but that any serious

talks were on hold until after this weekend’s draft.

Koivu made his debut with the Canadiens in 1995 and has been the captain since 1999. He has never had any problem reaching a

contract agreement with the team but, this time around, there may not be an offer.

Gainey’s decision to wait until after the draft has heightened speculation that the Canadiens are targeting a long-term need

– a dominant centre with some size.

But fans who are hoping that Vincent Lecavalier is on his way home will probably be disappointed.

While there has been a running feud between Tampa Bay Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, there appears to be a

consensus that trading Lecavalier would deal a serious blow to the Lightning’s marketing efforts.

The latest speculation has the Canadiens targeting Patrick Marleau or even Danny Brière, who has been mistaken for a big man.

Even if Lecavalier were available, it would be difficult for the Canadiens to satisfy the Lightning’s needs. Tampa Bay is

looking for a package that includes a front-line defenceman and that means Andrei Markov.

The Canadiens and Tampa had a brief discussion about a deal for Lecavalier last winter, but the talks ended abruptly when

Lawton asked for Josh Gorges, Christopher Higgins and Tomas Plekanec.

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Wild ideas about Heatley

Murray, good friend Fletcher, Minnesota’s GM, in serious talks

Allen Panzeri, The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray and Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher are close. Fletcher, just

recently appointed to the Minnesota job, worked for Murray in both Florida and Anaheim.

Under normal cir*****stances, then, they would ordinarily talk often, but they’ve been speaking even more frequently in the

past few days.

The topic?

Dany Heatley.

According to several sources, the Wild are serious players in the Heatley sweepstakes (along with the New York Rangers and

the St. Louis Blues, but more on them later).

With unrestricted free agent Marian Gaborik out the door (possibly to Los Angeles or Vancouver), the Wild would like to add a

scorer. There are few better than Heatley.

There are obstacles, though. Murray would like a top player to present to Ottawa’s fans, but the Wild aren’t about to trade

either 26-year-old centre Mikko Koivu ($3.2 million) or 24-year-old defenceman Brent Burns ($3.550 million).

What might Murray take, then? One suggestion is that the Wild might part with 21-year-old centre James Sheppard, their first

draft choice (No. 9 overall) in 2006, and Ottawa 67’s defenceman Tyler *****a. Throw in a draft pick and everyone’s happy.

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