Senators still chasing Mats

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Eugene Melnyk wants Mats Sundin to be a Senator, delivering the message loud and clear in person last week.

League sources say Melnyk had a chance meeting with the former Toronto Maple Leafs captain during last week's visit to Sweden for games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While the unrestricted free agent hasn't decided if he's going to return to the NHL, he was in Stockholm to drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff Saturday.

Melnyk told Sundin that the interest shown by GM Bryan Murray is genuine and the club will make room for the 37-year-old centre if he wants to play here. Through a club spokesman, Melnyk had no comment yesterday.

J.P. Barry, Sundin's agent, didn't want to comment on the meeting with Melnyk. But Barry, who also represents Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, isn't sure if Sundin is any closer to making a decision on his future.

"We spent a lot of time together with Mats and we had a lot of discussions, but at this point there's no decision," said Barry.

The Senators, who wouldn't be able to match the two-year, $20-million (all terms US) offer made by the Canucks, have talked to Barry several times.

The Senators aren't alone in their pursuit of Sundin. The New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Leafs have all shown an interest in Sundin.

TORONTO OUT OF PICTURE?

If Sundin is going to return to the NHL, it likely won't be with the Leafs, who have tabled a one-year, $7 million deal. Toronto tried to deal its captain at last year's trade deadline, but Sundin wouldn't waive his no-trade clause. The belief among NHL executives is if Sundin is going to come back this season, he'll want to play for a contender, which could knock Vancouver out of the hunt.

"It could be tough for Mats Sundin, after all those years with the Leafs, to cross the street and go suit up for his biggest rivals in Ottawa or Montreal. I don't know if he's the kind of guy who could make that kind of move," said a league executive yesterday.

"It might make more sense for him to go to a team like the Rangers. They've got a chance to win, they've got a strong goalie (with Henrik Lundqvist) and Sundin really doesn't have any history with that team, good or bad. The Rangers aren't the Leafs biggest rivals."


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