Saturday, June 21, 2008

Questions about the Mats deal

This is what we know: Cliff Fletcher has given the Habs exclusive negotiating rights to Mats Sundin.

And tha'ts pretty much all we know. This being the Maple Leafs, the army of reporters covering the team are more interested in offering up opinions on the deal than in actually finding out the details. Why bother with all those boring "facts", when speculation is so much more fun.

So since they're not asking the right questions, I figured I'd give it a shot. If anyone has seen these questions answered anywhere, please post a comment and I'll update as we go.

- Do these "exclusive" rights mean the Leafs can't talks to Sundin either? Howard Berger seems to think so. Other articles don't mention it. This seems important, no?

- We all assume that there's a conditional deal in place if Mats signs in Montreal. But has anything been filed with the league? Even conditional deals have to be written down somewhere. Look at the Prospal trade this week, which was basically a conditional deal with a seventh-round pick as a placeholder. Did the Habs and Leafs file anything? Or is this a gentleman's agreement with Fletcher and Gainey? If so, is it even enforacable?

- Is there any compensation involved if the Habs don't sign Sundin? Obviously it wouldn't be much, but are the Habs getting a 100% risk-free window here, or are they paying a price just to pick up the phone? Similar deals in pro sports have happened both ways.

- Why would the compensation only apply until June 30? Several articles, including Damien Cox, mention that the conditional deal would only be in place until the start of free agency. Why? If the Habs can work out a deal with Sundin, whether its tomorrow or in July or in August, what difference does it make? And if the trade is only in place until June 30, what's to stop the Habs from waiting until 12:01 on July 1 and signing Mats then?

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