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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Contract talks create quandary for stars

By Pierre LeBrun

Three players, three stars, all restricted free agents come July 1 but only one year away from unrestricted free agency.

Interesting position to be in if you're Jeff Carter, Shea Weber or Zach Parise. You don't really have the power to just walk away July 1, if you were so inclined. But you hold the hammer in talks for any long-term deal, because you're giving up UFA years one season from now.

I updated Weber's situation Monday night in the Hockey Hall of Fame blog, which was that the Nashville Predators continue to have a dialogue with his agent, Don Meehan, but, at this point, nothing is even close to imminent.

Parise just hired Meehan's firm, Newport Sports, via agent Wade Arnott. Some people might see that as an ominous sign, that Parise went from no agent to one of the sport's most powerful agencies, but New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello didn't sound concerned when asked at the GMs meeting Tuesday in Toronto whether the hiring by Parise changed anything.

"Absolutely not. That's a player's prerogative," Lamoriello said. "We have an excellent relationship with Newport. They've got a job to do, and we've got a job to do. That's part of sports."

Lamoriello later told ESPN.com before leaving the GMs meeting that obviously at some point this season he'd like to sit down and begin that process with Newport. How this will play out is anyone's guess, but, for sure, Lamoriello and Newport, especially Meehan, have hammered out a zillion deals together over the years. We'll see.

Then there's Carter, the Philadelphia Flyers' sniper.

"We're still talking," Rick Curran, Carter's veteran agent from the Bobby Orr Group, told ESPN.com via e-mail Wednesday.

Asked Wednesday about the status of talks, a Flyers front-office source told ESPN.com via text message that there was "no rush."

Washington Capitals winger Alexander Semin was in the same position as these three players a year ago and opted for a one-year deal to bridge the gap to his UFA year, which is coming up in July. Food for thought in case any of these three contract negotiations hits a wall on the long-term front.

Speaking of Semin, a source told ESPN.com on Wednesday that at this point, there is mutual interest from both parties to sit down in the new year and see whether there's a fit in terms of an extension. As per the collective bargaining agreement, players on one-year deals can't begin contract talks for a new deal until Jan. 1. But you can expect the Caps and Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, to sit down in 2011.