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Let's talk about Mats Sundin



First, though, let me say that despite a 4-3 shootout loss on Tuesday, you have to be very happy with what you saw on the ice. Yeah, there are some blips. The penalty kill has to be a lot better. It has allowed six goals in 21 chances in its past four games, and wouldn't you like to see someone just level an opponent in front of the net, just once? And wouldn't it be nice if these guys could finish?

But the jump was outstanding and you finally saw of what Steven Stamkos is capable. He didn't score but he was the Lightning's best player. Helps to play with Marty and Vinny, but still. It's about time he put on a show.

So, one subject that kind of got glossed over with all the Barry Melrose stuff and that I took a few days off over the weekend, was the news that the Lightning has kept in contact with free agent center Mats Sundin. His agent, J.P. Barry, said Tampa Bay was one of 10 teams who have shown interest and that he believes of the Lightning, "There's sincere interest there."

Owner Oren Koules spoke to Sundin at least as early as last week in Los Angeles.

What are we to make of this?

Obviously, if Sundin were to decide to play for Tampa Bay, and that decision might not come for weeks, the team will have to be in a playoff hunt. No way the 37-year-old will play for a non-contender. Perhaps that is another reason the Lightning pulled the trigger on Melrose.

So what are the pros?

Sundin will be a skilled addition and can play the power play and will be motivated. He also will be fresh, having missed training camp and perhaps the first two months of the season.

The cons?

he's 37 with a history of hip problems. He is not one to be a dressing-room leader. So says Ken Campbell, senior writer for the Hockey News who covered the former Maple Leafs star for the Toronto Star. He is, though, a leader by example. Sundin also will cost, about $7-million pro-rated to whenever he signs is the best guess. That will force the Lightning, with 14 forwards and a salary cap number of about $52-million (the limit is $56.7-million) to make some harsh personnel and salary decisions.

So, what do you think? Is he worth the investment? Remember, many things must fall right for Tampa Bay to pull this off, and we haven't even heard, officially, if Sundin is interested. But the agent says the Lightning has "sincere" interest, so we might as well speculate.    


[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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