- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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A Montreal radio report surfaced via Twitter on Tuesday that the Habs were close to signing star blueliner Andrei Markov to a long-term extension.
"I have not had any negotiations whatsoever with Montreal," veteran agent Don Meehan, Markov's agent, told ESPN.com on Tuesday afternoon. "These reports of a signing are absolute nonsense.''
Still, Meehan obviously expects to talk contract with Habs GM Pierre Gauthier at some point this season. Markov is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and would be the headliner among blueliners (not counting Nicklas Lidstrom).
I think Meehan and Gauthier will be able to get a deal done before July. I don't think Markov wants to go anywhere.
It makes sense for the Canadiens to wait and see how Markov plays once he returns. He had ACL surgery in the offseason.
Senators looking at trade possibilities
Senators GM Bryan Murray has been working the phones this week in view of his team's dismal start to the season.
"I've talked to a few managers, not everyone by any means, but I've called a few people," Murray told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon. "But there's nothing going on at this point. I think most everybody feels it's too early [for a trade]."
But at 1-4-1 to start the season, especially for a team with playoff aspirations, Murray has the itchy trade finger.
"Obviously we're not happy with how we've played," Murray said. "We feel we've given up too many scoring chances and goals. So we're trying to find a little bit of a solution there. The main one would be if a couple of guys played better. But we might look at what's out there."
The Sens are on the lookout for a defenseman. They miss Filip Kuba, who's likely out another two weeks as he recovers from a broken leg. And before you mention Sheldon Souray's name, I don't think he's an option. The Sens can't take on that money under the cap. They need to make a money-in, money-out trade. I think if Murray does something, it'll be more along the lines of a five- or six-type blueliner.
Tallon gets his ring
A few weeks ago, Panthers GM Dale Tallon got a text message from Blackhawks president John McDonough saying the 2010 Stanley Cup rings were in. McDonough asked Tallon, the former Hawks GM, whom he wanted to get the ring from.
"I texted him back and said I would like him to come down," Tallon told ESPN.com on Tuesday, hours after receiving the ring. "So he responded in kind and delivered it today. That was real classy of him."
Classy indeed, especially when you consider the bad blood that might or might not have existed more than a year ago when Tallon was pushed out as GM (most believe by McDonough) and replaced by Stan Bowman.
That wasn't a move that was welcomed by many national media members who value Tallon's keen eye for talent and of course his gregarious demeanor. He had rebuilt the Hawks, and it was seen as unfair for him to be bumped off just because he took the blame for the botched qualifying offers in late June 2009.
Whatever, it's all water under the bridge. The Hawks, led by McDonough, have been first class in the way they've treated Tallon in the wake of their Cup triumph, and the former Hawks GM has genuinely appreciated it.
"Having my name on the Cup and now this ring, it's a beautiful thing," Tallon said.
He said the Hawks also gave his wife a pendant.
"All of it is first class," Tallon said.
And now all of it is closure.
"I'm looking ahead to this challenge with the Panthers," he said.
Canucks' blue line
During a training camp stop in Vancouver last month, I remember the reaction of Canucks GM Mike Gillis when I asked him about carrying too many defensemen and most notably what he was planning to do once Sami Salo returned from injury later this season.
"We went into last year with nine defensemen, and at the end of the season, we didn't have enough," Gillis told ESPN.com in late September. "There's a lot of time, and a lot of things can happen between now and when Sami is able to return."
Talk about prophetic. Newly acquired blueliners Keith Ballard (concussion) and Dan Hamhuis (foot) both missed Tuesday night's game at Minnesota. They had missed a total of six games -- combined -- in the past three seasons before then. It's that durability that Gillis was keying on when he acquired them. Go figure.
As much as Kevin Bieksa (UFA on July 1) has been given his rites of Canucks passage several times since the summer by fans and media, the fact that Vancouver has been riddled with blue-line injuries the past few years, especially at playoff time, makes me think the Canucks will try to keep as many defensemen as possible for the long haul.
1dScott Burnside and Craig Custance