The market for Mats Sundin has shrunk significantly since the summer. (Photo By Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the rumor mill, Mats Sundin has returned.
The former Leafs captain was reportedly in Toronto recently for a physical and will be attending a two-week training session in Los Angeles. It is believed these are the first steps to his eventual return to the NHL.
Of course, Sundin remains coy about his plans, insisting nothing has changed from the summer, meaning he’s yet to set a date for a return or to name the teams he might sign with.
He’ll find the market for his services has thinned considerably since the summer.
The Montreal Canadiens grew weary of waiting for Sundin and used the cap space set aside for him to trade for center Robert Lang and sign defenseman Patrice Brisebois instead. They are no longer interested.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers were also linked to Sundin, but like the Habs they lack the cap space to sign him. Both clubs are now believed to be focused on bolstering their respective bluelines.
Tampa Bay was also reportedly interested, but they are already loaded at forward and need more depth on defense. The Ottawa Senators publicly expressed a willingness to sign Sundin, but their biggest need now is a quality starting goaltender. Like the Rangers, Flyers and Canadiens, the Senators lack the cap space to sign him.
On the weekend the Chicago Blackhawks popped up as a potential fit, but again, they lack the wiggle room under the cap.
That leaves the Vancouver Canucks and the Leafs as perhaps his only two choices.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who has a staggering two-year, $20 million offer on the table, insists he’s still interested. However, a recent report in the Vancouver Sun suggested Sundin was leery of playing for a West Coast team because of the travel schedule.
That leaves the Leafs. Their management team claimed the door remained open for Sundin if he wanted to return, but with the club currently in the midst of an overhaul, it remains to be seen if there’s mutual interest.
• The Los Angeles Kings’ recent rash of re-signings – Patrick O’Sullivan, Anze Kopitar and Matt Greene all inked multi-year extensions – spurred some pundits to wonder why other clubs aren’t getting their key players re-signed sooner rather than later.
In Colorado there is worry surrounding the future of Paul Stastny, who’s a restricted free agent next summer, while in New Jersey speculation has already begun about the possibility of long-time Devil John Madden following the path of many former New Jersey stars by becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Jordan Staal’s contract status has also generated interest, not just in Pittsburgh, but around the league. There is talk of him being a prime candidate to receive an offer sheet if the Penguins fail to ink him by July.
However, it must be remembered it’s only October, the NHL season is not yet a month old and there’s plenty of time for teams to re-sign their key players.
• Forget about the rumors of the Montreal Canadiens being a potential trade destination for Minnesota Wild right winger Marian Gaborik.
Following last Thursday’s NHL GM meetings in Chicago, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey denied recent reports claiming he’d been in touch with Wild GM Doug Risebrough, saying he’d never spoken to him about Gaborik.
Gainey also pointed out the obvious, that his club currently lacks the cap flexibility to trade for an expensive player like Gaborik.
And with the Habs off to their best start in 26 years, Gainey has no reason to make a trade right now.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.
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