Latest buzz heading into noon ET

July, 1, 2010
7/01/10
12:17
AM ET

Another day, another brick stripped off the Stanley Cup champions.

But hey, don't say we didn't warn you, Blackhawks fans.

After shopping Kris Versteeg hard last week at the NHL draft, Chicago pulled the trigger Wednesday night, sending the clutch two-way player to the forward-starved Toronto Maple Leafs in a move that, one hopes, once and for all, should alleviate most of the Hawks' salary-cap concerns.

For starters, it should mean there is cap room and money to stave off vulture offer sheets from competing teams for restricted free agents Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Versteeg should have seen this coming if he was reading ESPN.com or most other media outlets over the past week, but his agent, Dave Kaye of Thunder Creek Professional Player Management, said the deal did catch him off guard Wednesday night.

"At first he was surprised," Kaye told ESPN.com. "But really, he realized it was probably going to happen because of the cap situation with the Hawks. But he's excited about getting a new opportunity, a really good one in Toronto. He played primarily a checking role this year in Chicago and he'll be able to expand on that a little bit with the Leafs."

Yes, he will. Our hat goes off to Leafs GM Brian Burke, who adds to his ręsumę of bold trades. Versteeg was there for the taking for 29 teams, and the veteran executive pulled it off. His team was in desperate need of a top-six forward and he was able to get one without peddling defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Now the Leafs can add another top-six forward when they finally do move the offensive blueliner.

Other updates from late Wednesday night:

• Talks continued between the Pittsburgh Penguins and pending UFA blueliner Dan Hamhuis. "We are still talking," was all Hamhuis' agent, Wade Arnott of Newport Sports, told ESPN.com via e-mail around 11 p.m. ET.

• On the Sergei Gonchar front, talks were still at a stalemate.

"We had another discussion today [with Pittsburgh], but nothing has progressed," agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports told ESPN.com on the phone around midnight ET. "At this point, I think we'll likely go see what other teams have to say [on the market Thursday] and we'll go from there."

Honestly, I'm shocked this isn't getting resolved. You just don't replace a star defenseman of Gonchar's caliber.

• The talks between the Phoenix Coyotes and Zbynek Michalek were headed right to the wire Thursday morning. "Nothing doing tonight," agent Allan Walsh of Octagon told ESPN.com via e-mail at 11:15 p.m. ET. Michalek turns UFA on Thursday and he's the Coyotes' No. 1 signing priority.

• Around 11 p.m. ET, goalie Dan Ellis said it was status quo when reached via e-mail by ESPN.com. He said talks were scheduled to resume with Montreal in the morning.

• The Ottawa Senators were no closer to re-signing defenseman Andy Sutton and center Matt Cullen, as both are slated to become UFAs at noon ET. They both appeared to be headed to the market "barring any morning changes," said agent Pat Morris of Newport Sports, who represents both players.

• Around 9:30 p.m. ET, a Sabres source said unless anything changes, defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman were headed to the market.

• Winger Guillaume Latendresse agreed to terms on a $5 million, two-year contract extension with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Latendresse was slated to become a restricted free agent. The 23-year-old was earning just over $800,000 this past season when he exploded for 25 goals in 55 games with the Wild after his trade from Montreal.

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