The Vancouver Canucks are willing to pay Mats Sundin $20 million US to move three time zones west, a figure even the Maple Leafs concede likely closes the door on his Toronto career.
After lobbying from some of the Swedes on the Canucks last year, Sundin and agent J.P. Barry were presented with a two-year offer, which according to TSN, breaks down to a $5 million signing bonus, $5 million to play for this year, $5 million due on July 1, 2009 and another $5 million to play in 2009-2010.
Sundin had been looking at an earlier offer from the Montreal Canadiens for $8 million for two years, while the Leafs had offered one year at $7 million.
Nine teams, including the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings are thought to be in the Sundin sweepstakes, yet as of last night, Sundin still wouldn't commit to playing in the NHL this year.
"Maybe after today, he'll hopefully be able to speed up his process," Barry told TSN, as he exchanged calls with Sundin and back at a Stockholm sushi bar. "I really believe he'll come back. I know that for a lot of the teams, it's important for them if they're going to have Mats, to know they can (use the rest of this week's free agent shopping) to build around him."
Barry added that Sundin "had not excluded any teams."
Leafs' general manager Cliff Fletcher joked that Sundin would need the $3 million more than Toronto's offer for a cost of living adjustment in posh Vancouver, but added "we're not in that ($10 million) category."
It's believed the Canucks offered the Leafs two players and two picks last year when the bidding for Sundin heated up, but new GM Mike Gillis really wants to put his mark on the team after Calgary and Edmonton made big deals of late. Gillis has to show free agent Markus Naslund he should stay put and goalie Roberto Luongo that the team can make the playoffs and win the Cup within the two year's remaining on his contract.
With Brendan Morrison gone, the Canucks need a No. 1 centre, Plan B was signing Group 2 free agent David Backes from the Blues to an offer sheet yesterday, but the Blues matched the offer.