With the rumor mill swirling around Andrej Meszaros’ future as a member of the Ottawa Senators, one thing is certain: the Tampa Bay Lightning want to make him a member of their defense corps, but haven’t yet finalized the course of action that will allow them to do so.
Two high-ranking NHL sources confirmed to THN.com Friday that the Lightning are extremely interested in bringing the restricted free agent defenseman to Tampa Bay, but because they currently do not have their own 2009 third round draft pick that would allow them to sign Meszaros to an offer sheet, Tampa’s attempts at acquiring him may have hit a roadblock.
From there, the picture gets a little less clear. A well-placed source in Tampa Bay told THN.com the Lightning had not yet submitted an offer sheet to Meszaros, but instead had attempted to re-acquire their third round pick from Pittsburgh (dealt away in the June trade for the negotiating rights to former Penguin Ryan Malone) so they could press on and submit the offer sheet to the NHL and NHL Players’ Association for approval.
However, Lightning management has been completely rebuffed by Pens GM Ray Shero, who does not wish to be even remotely associated with an RFA offer sheet.
Because of Shero’s reticence, the source said, Tampa Bay has been attempting to finalize a trade for Meszaros with Senators GM Bryan Murray that would not include the first, second and third round picks necessary for an offer sheet to work. But, according the source, Murray currently has “no impetus” to work out a trade for the 23-year-old blueliner.
“Until Bryan wants to talk, or unless Ray changes his mind, there’s not much (the Lightning) can do,” the source said.
Phone messages left for Shero were not immediately returned.
Another source – the same one that told THN.com Thursday Meszaros had agreed to terms with a team other than Ottawa on the framework of a multi-year offer sheet – maintains the offer sheet was presented and signed by Meszaros and that the presentation of that offer sheet to the player has resulted in discussions between the Sens and Lightning that “could lead to a trade within the day.”
The same source also told THN.com they had been told Tampa Bay in fact have agreed to a tentative trade with the Penguins to re-acquire their third rounder, but was trying to swing a direct deal with Ottawa for Meszaros before going that route.