Latest rumblings: Kessel in play, Rangers-Bolts trade rumblings, Heatley still a Sen

June, 26, 2009

MONTREAL -- It's D-Day in the NHL, as in Draft … or Deal?

A juicy one got things going today when TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Boston Bruins offered Phil Kessel to Toronto for veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle and the Maple Leafs' No. 7 overall pick.

A source confirmed the trade offer to, although another source from the Leafs said the seventh overall pick "is not in play." Also, the window for Kaberle's no-trade clause disappears once the draft starts tonight, so any deal involving him would be on hold until then. Unless, of course, he waives his no-trade clause today.

Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was asked about the trade when he met with a group of us reporters today at 11 a.m. ET.

"Yeah, I saw that first thing," Chiarelli said. "I woke up and saw that on a Web site. I don't comment on that stuff."

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So far, the Bruins have been unable to re-sign Kessel, a rising star who is a restricted free agent come Wednesday. The deal makes so much sense for Boston, which believes it needs to add another puck-moving, top-4 blueliner, and Kaberle checks in at a nice $4.25 million salary for two more seasons.

"Again, I don't comment on the negotiations. What I can say is, he's a young player that has shown tremendous progress, and I'd love to be able to keep him," Chiarelli said of Kessel, who had 36 goals this past season, his third in the NHL. "I know there was a report this morning. I think it's unfair to everyone involved, whether it's true or not, to have that stuff reported. That's part of the allure of the draft."

Atlanta, which has the fourth overall pick, also has interest in Kaberle, a source told

Another interesting rumor making the rounds was a possible Martin St. Louis move to the New York Rangers, where the veteran winger would be reunited with coach John Tortorella. But a source from one of the two teams told around 11:30 a.m. ET that nothing was in the works there, adding that the two teams have not talked today. Another source was more succinct: "No way in hell."

Meanwhile, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray still had Dany Heatley on his roster as of 11:45 a.m. ET.

"I was hoping to hear from some teams this morning, and I haven't yet," Murray told "So I'm hoping that happens today. Perhaps it'll heat up this afternoon going into tonight. I don't know."

We believe the Rangers aren't done on this front. They like Heatley and may take another run at him.

Chiarelli, meanwhile, said he spoke with pending UFA Mark Recchi here in Montreal this week. But just as with P.J. Axelsson, another UFA come Wednesday, the Bruins GM has told the players to wait until the dust settles after the draft before he gets back to them.

As we reported yesterday, Montreal GM Bob Gainey did indeed meet with Matt Keator, the agent for pending UFA Mike Komisarek.

Another quick note: Nothing is official yet, but a source told this morning that the upper limit for the NHL's salary cap next season should be $56.8 million, which is $100,000 up from this past season's $56.7 million.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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