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June 29, 2007
Chicago still an option for Handzus
Impending unrestricted free agents Michal Handzus and Ladislav Nagy should receive plenty of interest come July 1, says TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta.

(TORONTO, ON) -- Despite local reports suggesting Blackhawks center Michal Handzus is set to sign elsewhere this July, TFP has learned that Chicago remains a "viable option" for the 30-year-old.

Handzus' agent, Matt Keator, told TFP he continues to speak with Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon.

"I've been talking to Dale on a regular basis and those talks have not concluded," Keator said Friday afternoon. "We're still talking and I anticipate talking over the weekend. He still remains a very viable option. [Chicago is] still very much a possibility."

Handzus, an unrestricted free agent whom is free to sign with any team effective one minute past noon on Sunday, is apparently looking for a four-year contract worth around $16 million, according to published reports.

A source with knowledge of the situation told TFP the Hawks are looking to sign Handzus at a three-year agreement with an annual salary closer to the $3 million range.

Keator would not go into detail pertaining to his client's demands, but did acknowledge that every player is looking for stability.


"I think every free agent is looking for term and dollars," he said. "You're only young once.

"There's other things that come into consideration. In a cap situation, it comes down to what do you want to do with your life and where do you want play."

With the likes of Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Ryan Smyth prepared to test the waters on Sunday, much of the market will be determined by the league's top-tier free agents. According to Keator, "a lot of July 1 will depend on the first few hours with some of the bigger dollar guys."

On Thursday evening, Briere rejected a five-year contract, tendered by the Buffalo Sabres, believed to be worth $25 million, and will explore his options via the open market. His teammate, Chris Drury, has also been offered a long-term deal, supposedly worth closer to $6 million per season; however he too is expected to field offers before making any decisions.

Both Gomez and Smyth are also going to approach the marketplace unsigned and reports suggest neither player will return to their former clubs.

Another one of Keator's clients, Ladislav Nagy, will hit the open market if he doesn't re-sign with his current club, the Dallas Stars.

The 28-year-old Nagy was dealt to the Dallas from the Phoenix Coyotes on February 7 and finished the 2006-07 campaign with 12 goals and 43 assists.

"We've had discussions," Keator said. "I think there's interest on both sides. It's still an option for him. I have talked to the Stars a couple times. They liked him while he was there and he's got a pretty good guy to play with in [Mike] Ribeiro."

Nagy and Handzus should attract plenty of interest from a number of clubs seeking top-six forwards, if they're available.

The first few days of free agency are expected to be the wildest. Many athletes welcome the opportunity of being unrestricted free agents, but at the same time want the process to be over relatively quickly.

"I think there will be activity at all levels," Keator said. "Are all the guys going to sign in the first few hours? Probably not. There's a domino effect in play with everyone on their list."

As for his clients?

"I feel pretty strong that for Nagy and Handzus, there will be plenty of calls."

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for He is also a contributing writer for



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