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The Big Three

Jay Bouwmeester becomes a UFA for the first time July 1 and will not be returning to the Florida Panthers. (Getty Images)

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Jay Bouwmeester becomes a UFA for the first time July 1 and will not be returning to the Florida Panthers. (Getty Images)

With the 2009 NHL draft weekend in Montreal fast approaching there’s not only plenty of speculation over which prospects will be selected, but also over which notable NHL stars could be dealt during the weekend’s proceedings.

• Topping the list is Ottawa Senators winger Dany Heatley as the fallout from his early-June trade request continues to make headlines.

The Boston Globe reported only three teams – the L.A. Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens – have the cap space to comfortably absorb Heatley’s expensive contract, suggesting the Kings might be able to make the best offer.

However, according to the L.A. Daily News, the Kings may not be interested. When questioned by a fan about Heatley, assistant GM Ron Hextall spoke only in “general terms,” saying the circumstance “raises red flags.”

It’s rumored the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames might be on Heatley’s “wish list,” but his $7.5 million cap hit for the next five years could be a stumbling block. The Ottawa Citizen raised the possibility Heatley could face accepting a trade to a team not on his list, sitting out, or returning to the Senators this fall.

New York Post sources say Heatley wants to be dealt to a Western team to avoid dealing with the same scrutiny he faced in Ottawa.

The report also noted the Rangers weren’t on Heatley’s list of desired clubs, but he likely wouldn’t block a trade to New York.

Senators GM Bryan Murray might not get fair market value for the two-time 50-goal scorer, but he probably wouldn’t accept the offer suggested by the Post of underachieving winger Nikolai Zherdev and overpaid blueliner Michal Roszival.

One club interested in Heatley is Minnesota, as new Wild GM Chuck Fletcher reportedly had several discussions with Murray about the winger. How great the interest is could depend on how Fletcher makes out in his efforts to re-sign impending UFA winger Marian Gaborik.

However, Fletcher may not be able to afford Heatley’s services anyway, as he may not be able to offer up the top-six forward and a puck-moving defenseman Murray is reportedly seeking.

Fletcher is believed to be offering backup goalie Josh Harding, but with the Senators’ acquisition of Pascal Leclaire last March, Murray probably isn’t interested in Harding.

If the Wild were to offer Pierre-Marc Bouchard  – whose verbal no-trade agreement with former management might not be in effect with Fletcher – along with Harding, Murray could get creative and flip Harding to another team for a skilled defenseman.

The Ottawa Sun suggested the San Jose Sharks might also be on Heatley’s list and GM Doug Wilson has promised changes following yet another disappointing early post-season exit.

Teams definitely not interested in Heatley include the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs. In recent interviews, the GMs of those squads stated they wouldn’t pursue the Ottawa star.

Wherever he ends up, it’s unlikely Heatley will move anywhere before his $4 million bonus kicks in July 1.

• One player who could be traded during the draft, or at least his rights, is Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
 
A UFA July 1, Bouwmeester apparently isn’t returning to the Panthers. The club is looking for a team willing to trade for his rights, meaning that team would have exclusive negotiating rights with the defenseman before the market opens.

The Philadelphia Flyers are believed to be part of a six-team wish list submitted by Bouwmeester’s agent, Bryon Baltimore, to the Panthers. Baltimore denied spelling out which clubs his client will accept a trade to, but didn’t rule out the possibility of submitting a list in the near future.

It’s believed Flyers GM Paul Holmgren wants Bouwmeester, but has to free up considerable cap space first. Certainly clearing Joffrey Lupul’s $4.25 million per season salary would help.

However, if Holmgren acquires and/or signs Bouwmeester, he doesn’t have to dump the salary right away. Holmgren can exceed the cap during the off-season provided he’s back under it by the start of next season.

The Edmonton Oilers have long been rumored as a potential destination for Bouwmeester, but according to the Edmonton Journal the club is more interested in acquiring a scoring forward for Ales Hemsky’s line than adding another high-priced, two-way defenseman.

• And what of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, who many Montreal Canadiens fans hope will become a Hab via trade at the draft?

According to the Tampa Tribune, what had once seemed a certainty, despite the constant denials of Lightning GM Brian Lawton, now appears a long shot.

Lawton claims he has received a few calls of interest, but nothing serious. The Montreal Gazette recently reported the Canadiens might still be interested, but not if star defenseman Andrei Markov is part of the return.

The Kings were also considered trade partners earlier this spring, but it’s believed their interest has subsided as they might look to the free agent market for a skilled veteran forward.

That of course hasn’t stopped Internet rumormongers from suggesting a trade to the Habs, Kings or another destination this weekend.

Given how the focus has shifted recently to Heatley and Bouwmeester, it’s less likely commissioner Gary Bettman will make any Lecavalier trade announcements Friday night.

Rumor Roundup will return Tuesday, June 30.

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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