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On the clock

Will Jason Spezza still have Dany Heatley on his wing when the season kicks off? (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Will Jason Spezza still have Dany Heatley on his wing when the season kicks off? (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tick-tock…tick-tock…

That’s the sound Senators GM Bryan Murray is hearing as he tries to move disgruntled left winger Dany Heatley.

It’s believed Murray could set a deadline before the start of Senators training camp on Sept. 12  for interested teams to make their offers. If Heatley isn’t moved by then, he’d be expected to report to camp.

It wouldn’t be the first time Murray set a deadline to move Heatley, having done so in June in hopes of moving the winger prior to July 1, the start of the summer’s unrestricted free agency period.

However, none of the eight clubs on Heatley’s preferred list of destinations made an offer Murray was seeking. The Oilers did make a legitimate bid, but weren’t on Heatley’s list and were rejected not once, but twice by the winger.

The Kings were reported by the Ottawa Sun as one of the clubs believed interested in Heatley, but GM Dean Lombardi shot that down quickly, claiming he didn’t want to take the risk on Heatley’s salary and additional baggage.

• The Ottawa Sun, meanwhile, cited sources claiming the San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers, both of which are on Heatley’s “wishlist,” are believed interested.

But are the Sharks a potential destination for Heatley as some in the Ottawa media have claimed?

No word thus far from the San Jose media of any real or imagined interest by Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who isn’t going to tip his hand to the press.

Having used more than $2 million of the $4.3 million in cap space Wilson freed up in a recent multi-player trade with Vancouver in re-signing forwards Torrey Mitchell (three years, $4.1 million) and Brad Staubitz (one-year, $500K), Wilson doesn’t have room to comfortably afford Heatley’s salary.

The Senators got $2.6 million in much-needed cap relief last week with the retirement of defenseman Jason Smith, but remain uncomfortably close to the $56.8 million salary cap.

Both clubs currently appear to lack the cap room to make the trade work, plus it doesn’t appear there’s a fit for either club in terms of return.

The Sharks would need to move salary, but aren’t willing to part with significant players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (who have no-movement clauses they’re unlikely to waive) nor does Wilson want to move a promising young forward like Devin Setoguchi.

• Murray would also like to hold talks with unrestricted free agent forward Mike Comrie, who played for the Senators late last season, but unless he can dump Heatley’s salary Murray won’t have the cap space for Comrie and could lose him to the Edmonton Oilers.

Confusing reports came out of the Edmonton press last week – one day claiming Comrie and the Oilers were discussing a deal, the next citing GM Steve Tambellini as having no interest “at this time” because of cap issues.

Suggestions are the sides may have talked, but the Oilers might wait until after training camp to make a decision. 

• Another player the Senators might lose out on is former Penguins right winger Petr Sykora.

The Ottawa Sun reported Murray was considering Sykora if Heatley’s salary could be moved, but according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, whose roster could also use some scoring depth on the wing, could be preparing an offer to Sykora.

• Getting back to the Sharks: they continue to be linked to trade rumors involving Boston Bruins right winger Phil Kessel, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent as training camp approaches.

The salary cap, however, remains as much of an issue for the Bruins as it does for the Sharks.

With only around $1.7 million in available space, the Bruins not only lack the room to re-sign Kessel unless they dump salary, but if they were to opt to trade Kessel, they wouldn’t have much space for a return other than draft picks and prospects, barring another move.

What could further hamper a potential trade of Kessel at this point is his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery. He’s not expected to return to action until mid-November at the earliest, which could scare away potential suitors.

Still, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported last week a league source claiming several unnamed teams have made inquiries about Kessel’s availability. 

Kessel’s injury status means the Bruins aren’t in any hurry to sign or trade him, but the right winger hinted a couple of weeks ago it was possible his situation could be resolved before the start of the upcoming season on Oct. 1.

One team that could be moving closer to landing Kessel is the Maple Leafs. GM Brian Burke’s recent reacquisition of the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick from Chicago over the weekend led to speculation it would be used as part of the required compensatory return if Burke were to successfully sign Kessel to an offer sheet.

Burke and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli refused to comment, but it is possible Burke will use the threat of an offer sheet to perhaps get better terms to pry Kessel away from the Bruins via trade.

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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