It's no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers love soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Jay Bouwmeester, it also isn't a secret that they went after him at the NHL Trade Deadline in March, but they came up empty then.
Now he'll soon reach the market, either the trade market or the free agent market.
A lot of people think that the Florida Panthers will trade his rights at the NHL Entry Draft this upcoming weekend, and with each passing day it seems more likely, however its still an unknown.
Even Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren thinks that will happen, or at the very least, a "good chance" of that to happen.
Holmgren also pointed out something that many fans never realized. Trading an asset just for the chance of talking to a player that might not want to play for you is a huge risk.
The Flyers took a risk two offseasons ago when they acquired the rights to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, which they were able to sign to long-term deals shortly after.
But Homer knew that the Predators could not sign them and that made it easier to do for the Flyers.
Think back to that whole deal, essentially the Flyers got Hartnell, Ryan Parent, Timonen, and Scottie Upshall for Peter Forsberg. Boy, did that work out for the better.
Back to Bouwmeester.
In a press conference today, while talking about trading for the rights of a player, Holmgren pointed out that you don't know if a player is even interested in playing for you.
So is Bouwmeester even interested in playing for the Flyers?
A league source told CSNPhilly.com's John Boruk that Bouwmeester has a "wish list" that contains six NHL teams, and guess what, the Flyers are indeed one of them.
In Boruk's report, he stated that the source said J-Bo likes the "organizational standpoints" and thinks the Flyers are a "up-and-coming team."
There are some obstacles in the way of the Flyers actually getting a deal done to acquire his rights because let's face the facts, Bouwmeester's rights with probably be traded at the draft.
In order for the Flyers to actually be able to sign Bouwmeester, they'll have to make one or two moves to clear up some cap space. According to Holmgren, the Flyers are "a little north of four million" below the cap.
To clear up space, Philly would have to move at least one of their high-paid forwards. The trade candidates are: Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Hartnell, Randy Jones, and Joffrey Lupul.
It's not that easy to just trade players away. There are at least three things that comes into play: contract, interest, and no-movement/trade clauses.
Briere, Gagne, and Hartnell each have a no-trade clause and Briere has a no-movement clause. They would have to okay a deal first, and there's no certainty that any of them would.
Plus, Briere he has a horrible contract and he's been plagued with injuries, it's not likely that he'll be moved despite the constant attempts to find a taker. It was already reported that the Canadiens said no.
So who else could/would take Briere?
Maybe Buffalo would take him back, but he's not going anywhere in all likeliness.
Gagne is believed only to be willing to waive his clause to go to Montreal, and who knows about Hartnell. That fact is: No one knows if they'll waive to go anywhere.
If the fans had a say in this, Jones would have been out of Philadelphia three days ago. Jones' cap hit for the 2009-10 season will be $2.75 million. The fans think that's $1.75 million too much.
The player most likely to be moved is Lupul and his $4.25 million cap hit for the '09-10 season.
Who would take him though and for what?
You don't want to just give away a 20-goal scorer.
Maybe the biggest obstacle about acquiring the negotiation rights is what it would take to get a deal done with Florida. I'd rule out a first round pick and another pick, there would have to be at least one NHL player and prospect going to the Panthers.
For speculation purposes let's say Lupul and James vanRiemsdyk for the right to talk to Bouwmeester. Florida would probably like a defenseman in return, so take vanRiemsdyk out of the formula or keep him in there and add Matt Carle or Jones.
Of course, with that said, none of that is true. Only the Panthers know what they want for him. It'll take a lot to acquire his rights, let's just say that.
Will Florida even trade his rights or will they keep him and try to resign him until July 1 rolls around?
A lot of people don't think they can sign him because he doesn't want to play there anymore.
All signs points to that, and Florida is realizing that.
Ask a general manager if he thinks if Florida can resign him, and the answer will likely be no.
My prediction is that J-Bo doesn't want to be in Florida anymore and that the Panthers know that. They'll trade his rights to a team this weekend.
Waiting for him to reach the open market and the possibility of getting him for nothing is a different animal. You have to compete for him and the price goes higher and higher.
The thinking is that Bouwmeester will command a long-term deal in the range of $7 million per season. That's probably what it would take now, throw in two-three teams and it's a bidding war. That $7 million a year goes up eight, nine, ten and so forth until he agrees.
Although it's a remote possibility that the Flyers can find the cap space to sign him to a contract. Putting together an attractive enough offer to get him to agree to it is the hard part, the idea isn't that far-fetched.
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