- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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For years Dan Boyle tuned in on July 1 to watch all the fun.
He was never personally involved, so he would watch from afar with interest.
Now that’s changed, and for the first time in his career he’s going to market himself.
"It’s definitely exciting to watch when you’re not involved. It’s definitely a different experience when you’re in the middle of it," Boyle told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
The window for teams to reach out to other unrestricted free agents opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. And the Boyle camp was a popular target.
"Good deal of interest, there are going to be good options for him," Boyle’s agent, George Bazos, said Wednesday. "We’ll sift through it the next few days and see where it all leads."
All they can do is talk, nobody can sign a free agent from another team until July 1. But within the rules of the UFA talking window, teams can certainly lay out the parameters which they’d be willing to agree to.
"We’re just trying to figure out what the place for me would be and there’s definitely a few options out there," Boyle said.
Getting a two-year deal is very important and Bazos is confident he can make it happen for Boyle, who turns 38 on July 12. Contracts signed by players who are 35 and over count against the salary cap regardless of whether the players complete them or not. That’s why there’s risk involved.
"I still think he can really help a team, he’s still a great skater and a terrific character guy," said one Eastern Conference team executive Wednesday.
Boyle indeed remains a terrific skater and puck mover, so two years doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch.
"It’s not to say that I can’t play any longer than that, but mentally and physically I’ve committed myself to two years. I feel great right now," Boyle said.
"The only thing I know for sure is that I have two very good years left in me and then I can see after that."
While neither Boyle nor Bazos would divulge which teams had already shown interest, other sources around the league confirmed Toronto, Detroit and the New York Rangers were among the several teams that have shown interest in Boyle.
One source described the Maple Leafs' interest as "serious." And the Rangers are also very interested, especially pending the outcome of talks with UFA D-man Anton Stralman.
And of course the New York Islanders remain an option. Montreal had a bit of interest in case talks with Andrei Markov went south, but now that he’s re-signed, the Canadiens are likely not a player on Boyle.
Agent Matt Keator’s phone started ringing at 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning when the UFA talking window opened, with lots of teams calling in a hurry on Paul Stastny, the top center available on the UFA market.
In the meantime, the Colorado Avalanche will be kept in the mix throughout.
"Paul’s first choice is to re-sign in Colorado but we’ll listen to what teams have to say and make an informed decision," Keator told ESPN.com on Wednesday morning.
According to a source, the St. Louis Blues were among the many teams that reached out to the Stastny camp. Given the Blues’ pursuit of Jason Spezza, getting Stastny instead would be a cheaper acquisition in terms of not having to give up assets to get him.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon keeps listening on offers for the first overall pick, but as of Wednesday at noon ET still nothing close enough to get a deal done.
"Not much new," Tallon told ESPN.com. "There’s some offers from teams in the middle of the pack. But I want to stay top 10 if I can."
To move down, Tallon would want an established player that fits into his team’s young core. Plus, as he said, he still wants to pick in the top 10.
Right now, that offer isn’t there.
"We’re in a good spot. We’ll take the pick if nobody steps up," said Tallon, who expected the offers to get more serious as we get close to Friday evening’s first round.
Talks are ongoing between the Montreal Canadiens and captain Brian Gionta (UFA July 1). Agent Brian Bartlett said Wednesday he was "cautiously optimistic" something could get done with the Habs, although finding the right term/dollar match remains a work in progress. Bartlett also said other teams had already called to inquire about Gionta once the window opened Wednesday.