Waiting is par for course

The Flames are planning to talk to Jay Bouwmeester's camp today. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

The Flames are planning to talk to Jay Bouwmeester's camp today. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

With his client's first shot at unrestricted free agency only a couple of sleeps away, Bryon Baltimore won't let it be known where Jay Bouwmeester stands.

At least not to the media in regards to negotiations with the Calgary Flames.

However, Baltimore was willing to shoot down any rumours of a deal already being in place between the Flames and the defenceman.

One infamous Internet site claimed yesterday a deal with a cap hit of US$6.3 million was in place, which had tongues wagging among Flames fans.

"I can dispel that rumour," Baltimore said from Edmonton. "We have not agreed to anything because we haven't even talked yet."

Expect talks to happen today. The Flames have exclusive rights to talk contract with the blueliner's representative, and you can bet GM Darryl Sutter will make his best pitch between now and 10 a.m. Calgary time July 1 -- which is when free agents officially hit the market.

Considering the Flames surrendered a third-round pick to the Florida Panthers for that opportunity, Baltimore and Bouwmeester are more than happy to accommodate a meeting just in case it's an offer they can't refuse.

"We're going to sit and listen to what the Flames have to say," Baltimore said. "They've put themselves in a position where they have that opportunity. We're certainly going to listen to what they have to say. Whether any decisions are made prior to Wednesday is certainly up in the air. We've kind of taken a patient attitude since the start of this season. Other than that, I really can't tell you much more."

What will the Flames pitch?

They have a very strong top-end core with the likes of Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Daymond Langkow at forward, Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf on the blueline and Miikka Kiprusoff in goal.

That would give Bouwmeester the chance he hasn't received through his career -- a shot at the playoffs. With him in the fold, those Stanley Cup dreams would certainly become more realistic.

Plus, Calgary is close to his family -- all in Edmonton.

Will it be enough to dissuade him from signing elsewhere for more money? At least Bouwmeester's camp is willing to listen.

As for hopes they've achieved anything more.

"Pure speculation," Baltimore said.

HOCKEY TALKY

Michael Cammalleri is a longshot at best to return to Calgary after his 39-goal season, but it'll be fun to see where the affable goal scorer ends up. Many figure he'll end up in Vancouver or Toronto, but here's a team to consider: The Washington Capitals.

Cammalleri played one full season and parts of two others in Manchester, where the head coach was Bruce Boudreau. We've been told Cammalleri and Boudreau have a great rapport and the Caps have cash and the need for another scorer.

Team to keep an eye on when free agency begins: The Minnesota Wild. Granted, when the Sedin twins sign -- whether it's in Vancouver or elsewhere -- the chips around the league will fall into place, but the Wild will be an interesting study. With a new coaching staff, Minny will try to sell players on a more offensive style in front of a great fanbase. It likely won't be enough to keep Marian Gaborik in the fold, but rest assured the Wild ownership will loosen the wallet to bring in some offensive talent.

Saku Koivu may very well join his younger brother, but that could be the tip of the iceberg. You can bet the Wild will go after a couple of big-ticket scorers, such as the Sedins, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat or Cammalleri. Minnesota may not make the biggest splash during free agency, but it will be a team with major turnover.

FLAMING C-NOTES

Without having Dustin Boyd or Adam Pardy re-signed and assuming one of either Matt Pelech or John Negrin will be on the NHL roster, the Flames have five defencemen and 10 forwards inked for the coming season.

That leaves them somewhere north of US$10 million in salary cap space right now -- thanks in big part to ridding the team of Jim Vandermeer's contract.

We could assume left-winger Kyle Greentree makes the jump -- something Sutter alluded to this off-season -- but that still leaves the Flames in position for one impact signing.

But it has to be shrewd. Very shrewd.

If the Flames and Bouwmeester can't come to a deal, where else could Calgary turn? They could look at a defenceman not quite to Bouwmeester's status but in a tier or two below, such as Francois Beauchemin, Derek Morris or Rob Scuderi.

Or, they can use the cash for another top-six forward -- how does Mike Knuble, Mikael Samuelsson or even Jason Williams sound?

Or they could find a bunch of proven but affordable players in the likes of Steve Montador or Greg Zanon on defence and forwards such as Ian Laperriere and Joel Ward.

Either way, the next week will be all kinds of fun.

FLAMES CONTRACTS

(IN MILLIONS)

FORWARDS (10)

Jarome Iginla $7

Olli Jokinen $5.25

Rene Bourque $1.35

Daymond Langkow $4.5

David Moss $1.3

Curtis Glencross $1.2

Eric Nystrom $0.688

Craig Conroy $1.05

Wayne Primeau $1.4

Brandon Prust $0.5

DEFENCEMEN (4)

Dion Phaneuf $6.5

Robyn Regehr $4.02

Cory Sarich $3.6

Mark Giordano $0.892

Matt Pelech $0.850

GOALTENDERS (2)

Miikka Kiprusoff $5.833

Curtis McElhinney $0.535

RFA

F Dustin Boyd

TOTAL: $46.468


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