Finally, Mats Sundin News That Matters...Sort Of

Nelson SantosCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2008

Everyone has likely heard of or read the article in the New York Post by now whereby Mats Sundin declares his interest in playing for the Broadway Blueshirts. Of course, this is denied by his agent, J.P. Barry (as in "Just Please Barry this story"). Now, the only thing that irks me more than another article claiming Sundin is interested in a specific destination or vice-versa is the denial by his agent and any party that is named in the story.

However, one paragraph did catch my eye.

Indeed, sources report that No. 13's second choice is Philadelphia, whose GM, Paul Holmgren, has been aggressive in his pursuit of the first-line center who could swing the balance of power in the East.

As a Flyers fan, I'm unsure if this excites me, confuses me, or simply proves to me the article is a total fabrication. The statement does specify that Sundin's second choice is Philadelphia, which would be OK. But the claim that Holmgren has aggressively pursued him leads me to worry when, considering the financial state the Flyers are in, I can't imagine Holmgren aggressively pursuing any pricy unrestricted free agent.

The Post is claiming a player like Michal Rozsival could be moved to clear up $5 million. Now, I do not profess to being a "capologist" by any means, but I can't even begin to conceive what Holmgren would do to clear that type of space up. I believe, as of right now, the Flyers are at the ceiling.

Cap issues aside, the reason I was finally intrigued by a Sundin rumor is that it involved the Flyers, and, to this point, I've been pretty surprised to have not seen Holmgren and Co. named in the mix more often. It's no secret that the Flyers have coveted Sundin for some time now, even trying to pry him away during the Eric Lindros-Bobby Clarke saga.

Going on the assumption made in the Post article that Sundin can be signed for $5-7 million per year, that would be a lot of maneuvering for Holmgren. Obviously, if Mike Rathje remained on long-term DL and Derian Hatcher retired or was also pegged under the same status, that would clear up to $7 million (my guess would be this is what Holmgren's banking on). Now, if one or both of them returned at any point, the Flyers would be well over the cap instantly, and urgent changes would be required.

Mike Knuble could be shopped around as he is in his last season of a $2.8 million contract, but that would only be a small portion of Sundin's salary. You see why I'm quite skeptical of the validity of the sources for the New York Post article. I think we could be seeing a little "floater" interest being conjured up by Mr. Barry and a hockey columnist in New York on a slow news day in the NHL.

If Sundin were able to join the Flyers with little-to-no movement made to the current roster (i.e. Rathje and Hatcher were no longer a hit to the cap), then the Flyers would have to be considered the most offensively dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. The first nine forwards on the Flyers would all have 20-goal potential. I'd be a pretty happy Flyers fan. If Holmgren is seriously and aggressively pursuing Sundin, I really hope he has some more magic up his sleeve, because I would hate to see him dismantle the beginnings of a very promising unit he's put together thus far for a 37-year-old.

One short paragraph piqued my interest in a Sundin story; please forgive me. I vow that, from this point on, the next article I read on Mats Sundin will require the headline: "Sundin signs with [fill in appropriate NHL team here]."

P.S.: If anyone has a link to a site where NHL team's salary caps are listed, it would be greatly appreciated for future research.