Swede return for Mats?

Leafs captain Mats Sundin is being wooed by his old club team Djurgarden to play next season in...

Leafs captain Mats Sundin is being wooed by his old club team Djurgarden to play next season in Sweden. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

DETROIT -- Sweden is calling Mats Sundin home, but the Maple Leafs captain would have to take a big pay cut.

Djurgarden, Sundin's Stockholm club team, yesterday offered to make him the highest paid player ever in the Swedish Elite League. Sundin is in the midst of serious contract negotiations with the Leafs on a two-year deal.

"He doesn't have to worry about being the best-paid player," Hakan Sodergren, a former Djurgarden player, club representative and friend of Sundin told Aftonbladet newspaper yesterday. "We have offered him a huge contract.

Sodergren later told a Swedish TV station: "I think the odds for Mats playing in Sweden next season is 50/50."

There is also talk of the 36-year-old possibly getting a job in the organization after he finishes playing. But some perspective is needed.

A top Swedish player such as import Jan Hrdina of HV 71 made about $500,000 tax free this season, on what's called an "artist contract" allowing him to stay in the country just six months. Otherwise, heavy taxes are applied to all salaries, up to 45%.

Swedish player salaries are not made public.

It's believed the most Sundin could make without stretching Djurgarden's resources would be in the $1-million range.

Contrast that with the $4.56 million US he gets if the Leafs pick up their one-year option on his 2007-08 contract by June 15 or go the more likely route of a two-year deal around $11 million, to be settled before that date.

Sundin has talked of playing for Djurgarden only in broad terms, such as during NHL labour problems and perhaps after he retires. Claes Elefalk, the agent who looks after Sundin's Swedish interests, confirmed Djurgarden's offer to Aftonbladet, but he and Sundin's North American rep, J.P. Barry, could not be reached last night.

"This is news to me and everyone around here," Leafs assistant general manager Mike Penny said. "It has been our understanding that he's staying in the NHL, but I'll leave it to (general manager) John Ferguson to talk about when he gets back from the world championship in Moscow this week."

But Djurgarden is definitely pulling on Sundin's heart strings.

He must have been aware the famous team fell to near the bottom of its league, missing the playoffs this year as the 10th of 12 teams.

The Leafs also missed the playoffs, for a second consecutive year, while Sundin finished in a scoring slump despite leading Toronto in points and suffering a torn labrum at the end of the season.


Videos

Photos