Sedins on Canadiens' free-agent radar But bidding war might include Leafs

PAT HICKEY, The Gazette

With the Vincent-Lecavalier-to-Montreal rumours laid to rest for at least another week, expect the Canadiens’ focus to turn to Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Talks between the Sedins and the Vancouver Canucks have stalled and it appears they will be on the open market when they become unrestricted free agents tomorrow. The Sedins won’t come cheap – they are looking for long-term deals worth at least $6.5 million a season each – but Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey has more than $30 million available to go shopping.The Canadiens are one of several teams interested in the 28-year-olds and the bidding could be another chapter in the long rivalry between the Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke, the Leafs’ general manager, isn’t known for his fondness for European players but the Sedins are an exception. He moved heaven and earth – and a few draft choices – so that he could draft the pair for the Vancouver Canucks.

Henrik Sedin is a 6-foot-2 centre while his brother, Daniel, is a 6-foot-2 left wing. They led the Canucks in scoring with 82 points each – Daniel had 31 goals and Henrik scored 22 – and they have each scored at least 70 points in each of the four seasons since the lockout.

Gainey has said that he is determined to have a big centre in place next season and there isn’t much in the way of a fallback position if he can’t land the Sedins.

The player who closest fills the bill on the free-agent list is the New York Rangers’ Nik Antropov, who is big at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, but a tad on the fragile side. He played a career-high 81 games in 2008-09 but has averaged fewer than 59 games over nine seasons.

There is also the possibility of a trade in the future. The most interesting names mentioned are Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Either could be available if Doug Wilson decides he needs to shake up the underachieving San Jose Sharks.