DETROIT -- The Penguins' search to find Sidney Crosby a permanent linemate will start up again in the off-season.
It could wind up in the Windy City.
While there's a good chance that looming unrestricted free-agent winger Martin Havlat will stay with the Blackhawks, he could be the long-term solution for Penguins GM Ray Shero.
The solution was Marian Hossa coming into this season, but he went to the Red Wings, where he felt he had the best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
So Shero went the trade route, acquiring Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin at the deadline to fill the void beside Crosby, but only on a temporary basis.
Havlat, coming off a standout season while making $6 million (all terms US), would be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. His No. 1 choice is to stay with the 'Hawks, but will test the market if he can't get an 8-10-year deal.
While health has been an issue for Havlat, he didn't sustain any injuries this past season while recording 29 goals and 48 assists in 81 games.
Several other teams could make a pitch for Havlat.
The Senators might consider bringing back the rejuventated winger, but would have to move salary (such as those of C Chris Kelly, D Jason Smith and others) while Minnesota, Vancouver and Edmonton would also show interest.
Havlat's future with the 'Hawks should be decided soon. GM Dale Tallon has a proposal from Havlat's agent, Allan Walsh, and both sides want to get a deal done.
OFF THE GLASS
Former Senators coach John Paddock has changed his tune on Ray Emery. Paddock blamed the goalie after being fired in February 2008. But now that they've been reunited in the Flyers organization -- Paddock as coach of the AHL affiliate; Emery on a one-year deal believed to worth $1.5 million -- Paddock said Emery wasn't a problem in Ottawa. "I never thought he was a problem in the room," Paddock said. "Actually, he was fairly quiet in the dressing room. It was just that when he went on the ice ... He played hard. But we knew that was his profile when he turned pro. I don't want to say that he was lazy, but he wasn't the first player who didn't put as much effort into his game after a little taste of success." ... The Wild has opened contract talks with RW Marian Gaborik. Don't be surprised if he signs with Los Angeles should the Kings fail to acquire Lightning C Vincent Lecavalier.
AROUND THE BOARDS
The Bruins and F Phil Kessel appear to be far apart on a contract. Coming off an entry-level salary of $850,000, Kessel wants a huge raise to $5 million per season. It appears GM Peter Chiarelli wants Kessel to accept a similiar deal C David Krejci inked earlier this week -- $11.25 million over three years. If Kessel won't budge, he could be moved ... A potential UFA to keep an eye on: Montreal D Mike Komisarek. He's had talks with the Habs, but will likely test the market. The belief is Komisarek will get $4.5-$5 million a season ... Panthers adviser Bill Torrey is sifting through no fewer than 40 applications to fill the GM's job vacated by new Habs coach Jacques Martin. At the top of the list could be former Tampa GM Jay Feaster, former Minny GM Doug Risebrough and TSN's Pierre McGuire. If that's the case, McGuire should be a shoo-in ... Any truth to the talk the Leafs will make a pitch for potential UFA D Francois Beauchemin of the Ducks? They wouldn't be alone -- the Habs and Kings plan to speak to him as well.