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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec could attract a lot of attention if he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it’s quite possible he’ll remain a Hab.

ESPN.com recently reported talks are going well between Plekanec’s agent and Canadiens management, who hope to keep the talented Czech in their lineup for a long time.

Despite this, both sides mutually agreed to suspend talks until the end of the season.

That’s not as ominous as it sounds. Plekanec wants to focus on helping his club make the playoffs and Habs management wants to see what next year’s salary cap will be before continuing with negotiations.

Both camps seem intent on getting a deal done and at this point it seems likely Plekanec will be re-signed before July 1, but it could cost the Habs between $5-$6 million per season to keep him in the fold.

According to capgeek.com, the Habs currently have around $45 million committed to 13 players for next season and with several other key players still to re-sign, management will have to dump salary to make room for Plekanec’s potential new deal.

One possibility would be buying out the remaining year of veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik’s $5.5 million salary, which would free up more than $3.6 million of cap space next season.

• The Detroit Red Wings offense suffered a blow last summer when center Jiri Hudler opted to sign a two-year contract with Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental League as a restricted free agent, despite the Wings securing his rights with a two-year, $5.75 million arbitration award.

GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press he’s hoping to woo Hudler back, whose agent claims Hudler has a clause in his KHL contract permitting him to leave after the first season.

Holland, however, would need to know prior to July 1 if Hudler intends to return in order to free up sufficient cap space for his NHL contract. Should the Czech winger decide to play in the KHL next season as well, the Wings can instead pursue free agents or re-sign other key players.

• New Jersey Devils defenseman Paul Martin recently returned to action after recovering from a broken arm that sidelined him for nearly five months.

His future with the Devils beyond this season, however, remains in doubt.

Martin, 29, is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer and has a $3.83 million cap hit this season.

The Devils coped well in Martin’s absence and that could make it difficult for him to land an expensive, multi-year raise from shrewd GM Lou Lamoriello.

If Martin tests this summer’s market he’s bound to attract considerable interest from clubs seeking a top-two defenseman willing to pony up more than $5.5 million per season for his services.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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