With the NHL entry draft now in the rear-view mirror, the workload for 30 general managers and their front-office staff is set to increase in the next few days.
For example, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis will be busy trying to sign Daniel and Henrik Sedin in order to prevent the Swedish twins from testing free agency on Wednesday.
"We're still very optimistic," Gillis said after the NHL entry draft concluded at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon. "They're guys we clearly want on our team. We are working hard to put our best foot forward. They are guys we definitely want back, and we're going to try our hardest."
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray will be trying his hardest to move sniper Dany Heatley, who requested a trade this month. Heatley will cash in on a $4-million (U.S.) bonus on July 1 and if Murray can't find a deal to his liking by then, there is a possibility that Heatley will remain in Ottawa.
Murray did entertain some talks with several teams like the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers while in Montreal.
"I think there will be further discussions," he said. "I don't know how much. I guess we'll attempt to accommodate, if that's the right word … we'll see what happens."
Calgary Flames fans can't wait to see what happens with talks between GM Darryl Sutter and the Jay Bouwmeester camp. Sutter acquired the rights to the potential unrestricted free agent on Saturday morning and has a few days to work out a deal.
Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey has plenty of deals to work out with potential unrestricted free agents, including defenceman Mike Komisarek, captain Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev, Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Schneider.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke expects to field better offers for defenceman Tomas Kaberle in the next few days. He also will turn his attention to July 1 and continue to rebuild his club through free agency.
"We'll be involved on July 1st. The door is open for business at noon and that's when we will start to get involved," said Burke, who added that he won't buy out any players, but isn't afraid to send any of big-ticket players down to the minors next season if they underperform.
At the trade deadline, most teams were afraid to take on any long-term contracts because the salary cap in 2010-11 will likely to decrease because of the slumping economy. Burke pointed out that baseball already has seen a decrease in long-term contracts because of the economy. He predicts that big money still will be offered on July 1, just not the lengthy terms.
"There will be more caution, and maybe more prudence in light of the economy and what impact that will have on the cap," Burke said. "Yes, I think there will be more caution."
The final list of unrestricted free agents won't be finalized until Wednesday morning after teams take final stabs at keeping their players. Marian Gaborik appears to be one of the players who will test the free-agent waters, but Minnesota Wild rookie GM Chuck Fletcher will make a final attempt.
"Every pending UFA - we're just a few days away - why wouldn't you look over the fence and see what's on the other side," Fletcher said. "I'm just not sure which way the free-agent market's going to go. I really don't know. We certainly haven't closed any doors and [Gaborik and his agent]tell me they haven't either. Maybe something gets done before and maybe there are conversations afterwards, but it's all speculation at this point."
Besides Bouwmeester, Gaborik, the Sedins and the aforementioned Habs, some of the bigger names that could be available on Wednesday include: Nik Antropov, Todd Bertuzzi, Rob Blake, Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Brian Gionta, Mike Knuble, Derek Morris, Mattias Ohlund, Joe Sakic and Steve Sullivan.
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