Sundin 'holding up' NHL business

Several NHL teams are waiting to see what Mats Sundin decides before pulling off any moves. (Sun...

Several NHL teams are waiting to see what Mats Sundin decides before pulling off any moves. (Sun Media/Alex Urosevic, file)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

Mats Sundin's indecision is affecting the decisions of a number of NHL teams.

With the opening of training camp less than three weeks away, many clubs are wondering what the 37-year-old centre is going to do this season.

While the Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens, Canucks and Flyers have all made pitches to land Sundin, the unrestricted free agent is at home in Sweden weighing his options -- which include retirement.

"We're going to talk to Mats in the middle of this week and try to get a feel for where he's at," said Sundin's agent, J.P. Barry. "There's no timetable for a decision. We're just going to try to see how he's feeling."

The teams looking to sign Sundin aren't the only ones who wish he would make a decision. Several teams trying to make moves are being handcuffed by Sundin.

Anaheim is looking to trade defenceman Mathieu Schneider and his $5.6 million (all terms US) salary to an Eastern Conference team, but hasn't been able to do anything because some of the teams involved in the discussions for Schneider are in the Sundin sweepstakes.

"We just want him to make a decision because he's holding up the business of the league right now," a league executive said yesterday. "There are teams that want to make deals, but they can't do anything until they find out where Sundin is going to go."

The Canucks made Sundin a two-year, $20-million offer on July 1 and have been waiting patiently to see if he's going to take the deal.

If it's the bright lights and big city Sundin wants, then the Rangers are his team. For that to happen, New York would likely have to move Scott Gomez or Chris Drury -- possibly to Vancouver -- to afford Sundin.

If it's adoring fans and a strong hockey market Sundin wants, Montreal should be his choice. Heading into the 2008-09 season, the Canadiens might offer Sundin the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup -- his biggest reason to move on from the Leafs.

It's fair to say the Canucks, Rangers and Habs are the three top contenders to sign Sundin.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has shown a strong interest in the Swede, but it would some fancy footwork to fit Sundin under Philly's salary cap.

Sundin is also holding up the signings of some unrestricted free agents.

Wingers Glen Murray and Brendan Shanahan are having a tough time finding contract offers as the Sundin situation plays out.

"I'd just like him to do something so I can get a few things done myself," said the executive. "The longer this takes, the longer it's going to be for teams to get their rosters settled."

Some people around the NHL think Sundin could even take until Christmas to make a decision.

Sundin's desire to finish his career with the Leafs could be another reason why he hasn't made a decision.

While there is a one-year, $7-million contract on the table from Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher, there's a sense that bridge has been burned, possibily because Sundin refused to waive his no-trade at the NHL trade deadline in February.

So if Sundin can overcome his Leaf loyalty, he'll have a new home and teams and UFAs around the NHL will rejoice.

ROOKIE ROAD SHOW

The Senators rookies are taking their show on the road.

For the 10th time in team history, the Senators newcomers will participate in the annual rookie tournament which will be held at the Kitchener Memorial Auditoreum from Sept. 13-15.

The Panthers and Maple Leafs will also participate in the tourney. The Senators roster will include G Brian Elliott, along with Fs Jesse Winchester, Alexander Nikulin, Ilya Zubov and Jim O'Brien.


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