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Latest grist from Entry Draft rumor mill

Friday, 06.26.2009 / 12:05 PM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Larry Wigge - NHL.com Columnist

"I love the top five players in this draft. Our scouts wanted me to find flaws in the top five guys -- and you know something it's like trying to pick lint off a $1,000 suit."
-- Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton

MONTREAL -- Last year's draft was bedlam, with the number of trades made in the first round of the draft alone.

R.J. Umberger went from Philadelphia to Columbus, Alex Tanguay from Calgary to Montreal, Michael Cammalleri from Los Angeles to Calgary, Steve Eminger from Washington to Philadelphia, Olli Jokinen from Florida to Phoenix for Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and Chris Mason from Nashville to St. Louis.

Here are some trade rumors buzzing around Montreal this week:

* Canadiens GM Bob Gainey has made it no secret that he's looking to deal for a big, No. 1 center. In these parts, that ignites the Vinny Lecavalier rumors. No sale says Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton. But if John Tavares slips to No. 2 in the draft for the Lightning giving Lawton Steven Stamkos and Tavares down the middle for the future, well, a Vinny trade just might happen ... or not.

* Two-time 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley has asked the Ottawa Senators for a trade. Sens GM Bryan Murray is listening to offers, but he says there have been no discussions in which Ottawa would get anything comparable to Heatley in return.

Heatley has a $4 million bonus due on July 1 on top of his $7.5 million salary for the next five seasons.

* Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has mentioned the possibility of dealing defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Until yesterday he thought that wouldn't happen until July 1, but Burke claims to have been surprised by an offer he would consider making now and is currently in the process on contacting three or more teams that initially expressed an interest in Kaberle.

The kicker in this scenario is that Kaberle has a no-trade provision in his contract, but there's an opening in which he can be traded that begins tonight when the draft starts through August 15.

* Florida Panthers acting GM Randy Sexton is offering teams a chance to have exclusive negotiating rights to free-agent-to-be defenseman Jay Bouwmeester for what is believed to be a third-round draft choice now and more should a team sign Bouwmeester before he becomes a free agent
July 1.

* After posting the NHL's best record in the regular season but bowing out in the first round of the playoffs to Anaheim, the San Jose Sharks are said to be one of the interested parties in the Heatley sweepstakes. They are also said to be talking to teams about a deal for restricted free agent winger Ryane Clowe and former goal-scoring champion Jonathan Cheechoo.

* Cap-strapped Anaheim reportedly is offering goaltender J.S. Giguere in a possible trade. Ditto for defenseman Chris Pronger.

* And we've already heard the displeasure from Boston winger Phil Kessel at being offered the same sort of terms on a new contract that the Bruins recently gave to center David Krejci -- $3.75 million for the next three years.

An all-time class? -- Hush! Some scouts have the audacity to talk about the 2009 Entry Draft with the 2003 sweepstakes, which is considered, along with the 1979 and 1988 drafts, as the best ever.

In 2003, Marc-Andre Fleury went No. 1 overall and was followed by no fewer than 18 front-line players in the first round that year beginning with Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Nikolai Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Andre Kostitsyn and Jeff Carter going 1 through 11.

 
Later, we saw Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Robert Nilsson, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry with Patrice Bergeron, Matt Carle, Shea Weber and Lee Stempniak being selected outside the first round.

"I love the top five players in this draft," said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton, who has the second pick behind the New York Islanders. "Our scouts wanted me to find flaws in the top five guys -- and you know something it's like trying to pick lint off a $1,000 suit."

Lawton added that there were another five great players behind that handful.

Detroit Red Wings Assistant GM Jim Nill has made a living out of finding the right players no matter how deep a draft is to help the Wings win four Stanley Cups since 1997 and get to the Final seven times since 1995. He sees a deep depth in this draft beyond the names John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Brayden Schenn, Evander Kane, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jared Cowen and Nazim Kadri.

"There are a lot of good players 15 (and higher) that could be just as good as the top 10," Nill explained. "The players that'll go 15 to 35 have just as good a chance to become solid NHLers as anyone else."

Moving on up -- For teams looking to move up in the draft, it's been widely speculated that Atlanta would make a deal for the No. 4 overall pick for the right price. Ditto for Los Angeles at No. 5.

Names and games -- Bloodlines are always keen before the NHL Entry Draft -- and this year is no different.

Here are just a few of the top prospects and their famous connections to the NHL:

Landon Ferraro -- son of Ray Ferraro.

Carter Ashton -- son of Brent Ashton.

Tim Erixon -- son of Jan Erixon.

Philip Samuelsson -- son of Ulf Samuelsson.

Ryan Bourque -- son of Ray Bourque.

Barron Smith -- son of Steve Smith.

Matthew Hackett -- nephew of Jeff Hackett.

Mac Bennett -- nephew of Curt and Harvey Bennett.

Twin contract offers -- A Swedish report suggests that the Vancouver Canucks are about to offer Daniel and Henrik Sedin identical 12-year, $63 million offers to forego free agency on July 1.

A contract extension for goaltender Roberto Luongo is also believed in the works on or after July 1.

He likes Mike -- With no fewer than 10 free agents ahead, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey is making defenseman Mike Komisarek, just 27, his No. 1 priority now and before free agency begins on July 1.