Streit-en up and fly right

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Philadelphia Flyers swiftly denied a report from TSN claiming they'd signed defenseman Mark Streit to a four-year, $21-million contract.

GM Paul Holmgren released a statement saying talks with Streit's agent were ongoing and expressed confidence a deal would get done.

Meanwhile, the rest of the hockey world is taking TSN at its word that the two sides have a deal in place.

CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio reported the Flyers cannot officially announce Streit's signing until they've cleared sufficient room under next season's $64.3 million ceiling to avoid violating the NHL's “tagging” rule.

A team cannot spend more than 10 percent above the salary cap during the off-season. Streit's new contract (at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million) would push the Flyers $7.8 million over next season's ceiling.

Holmgren will free up the needed cap space 48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup final and informed Daniel Briere ($6.5 million per season) last week he would receive a compliance buyout.

Panaccio also reported a Bryzgalov buyout appears contingent upon landing a replacement goalie.

Holmgren is reportedly pursuing LA Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, but several teams (including the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders) are also interested in him. Holmgren could face an expensive bidding war to land Bernier.

OTHER FREE AGENTS FOR TRADE?

The recent trades of pending unrestricted free agents Streit and Sergei Gonchar and their subsequent signings with their new teams have generated speculation about other potential UFAs hitting the trade block before July 5.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon intends to meet with center Stephen Weiss this week to discuss a new contract. If they fail to reach an agreement, the Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings have notified Tallon of their interest in acquiring Weiss' negotiating rights.

Friedman also claimed the New Jersey Devils may be interested, noting Weiss played for Devils coach Peter DeBoer during the his tenure as Panthers coach.

Weiss, 30, is coming off a six-year deal with an average annual cap hit of $3.1 million, though his actual salary for this season was $4.1 million.

Given the lack of quality centers in this summer’s free agent market, he'll attract considerable attention, so it's no wonder some teams hope to avoid a bidding war by acquiring his negotiating rights.

Weiss, however, still holds a full no-movement clause, giving him the final say over where his rights can be dealt.

CANADIENS INTERESTED IN PURSUING BRYAN BICKELL

If Chicago Blackhawks left winger Bryan Bickell tests the free agent market next month, the Montreal Canadiens will be among the teams that pursue him.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun claimed the Canadiens have “definite interest” in the 27-year-old winger. Habs GM Marc Bergevin spent a number of years in the Blackhawks front office and was part of the scouting staff that brought Bickell to Chicago.

LeBrun reported the Canadiens covet Bickell for his size and skills, but won't overpay for his services. They currently have around $4.77 million in cap space, though the expected compliance buyout of Tomas Kaberle will free up an additional $4.25 million.

Bergevin must also look beyond next season, as he'll have to re-sign Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, center Lars Eller and blueliner Alexei Emelin. He'll also have to re-sign or replace captain Brian Gionta and veteran defenseman Andrei Markov.

The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks could also get into the bidding for Bickell, which would potentially drive his asking price beyond the Canadiens’ reach.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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