Andrej Meszaros could be on the move this summer.
Not only has the name of the Senators defenceman surfaced in possible trade talks with the Flyers, but his agent, Ritch Winter, confirmed to Sun Media yesterday that the 21-year-old Meszaros turned down a lucrative offer to play in Russia next season.
The talk is Meszaros, who made $984,000 (all terms US) this season and can become a restricted free agent on July 1, could have made in excess of $3.5 million next season to play in Russia, but he has no interest in leaving the NHL.
Winter said he had "constructive" discussions with Senators GM Bryan Murray about a new contract yesterday and both sides remain optimistic about getting a deal in place.
"There was an offer from a team in Russia, but (Meszaros') first priority is to remain with the Senators," said Winter. "He's had success with the Senators and he wants to be part of that team.
"We know there are going to be challenges to get a deal done, but we're working on it."
Whether Meszaros will be back with the Senators next season remains a question mark. Sources say Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has approached Murray about dealing for Meszaros.
Keeping Meszaros could be tough. The Senators would like to pay Meszaros somewhere in the $2-million range, but Meszaros will looking for something like the four-year, $13.2-million deal that Matt Carle signed with the Sharks halfway through this season.
Whether Meszaros will receive an offer on the open market as a Group II free agent isn't known, but he's still young and has plenty of upside. That's why the Flyers see Meszaros as an upgrade on defence.
If the Senators were to deal Meszaros, the question becomes who replaces him?
With veteran blueliners Wade Redden and Mike Commodore set to become unrestricted free agents, and not likely to be back, Murray has to be careful not to leave himself too thin on defence.
Holmgren, who sources say held several discussions with Murray before Monday's GMs' meetings in Detroit, might be willing to offer winger Scottie Upshall or centre R.J. Umberger, who is a restricted free agent after making $1.25 million last season, for Meszaros.
"You have to be careful about giving up defencemen because everybody is looking for them," a league executive said. "Especially, young defencemen. That's where you have to be careful. You can't just give up on a guy because he's had a tough couple of years.
"Sure, it's going to be hard to pay (Meszaros), but you have to find a way. (The Senators) used to have the best blue line in the league."
Senators centre Chris Kelly, meanwhile, is expected to hit the market as a UFA on July 1.