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PRINCE OF PUCKS: Change of heart in D.C.

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The Washington Post reported last week the , desperate to cut payroll, have given up plans to dump 's huge salary and are instead shopping center , whom they signed as an unrestricted free agent to a five-year deal worth over $5 mil per season last summer. Apparently the Caps are willing to absorb $1 million per season over the remaining four years of Lang's contract to facilitate a move. According to Booth Newspapers' Ansar Khan, the Detroit may be interested in Lang's services. The Wings, as everyone knows, are shopping for a replacement for the departed , and according to Khan have held "serious discussions" with the . The Wings, of course, are still trying to find a taker for , leading to speculation they may try to swing a "three-way" deal with the and another club willing to take Cujo off their hands, with the , and listed as possibilities. Sorry to rain on the parade, but you can rule the and out of that equation. The have already committed to and former Wing . Dealing away either or , as some have suggested, would leave the thin at center themselves. As for the , they're sticking with much-maligned , and as noted in this column last week, they can not afford to pick up Joseph's huge salary, even if the Wings absorbed a portion of it. That leaves the as a potential destination, but GM Glen Sather has given no inclination he's even interested in Joseph. As noted last week, there is one club that could use a veteran goaltender and might be willing to become part of a potential three-way deal: the Colorado . It appears that GM Pierre Lacroix wants to stick with and prospect Phillipe Sauve, but he always plays his cards close to the vest. If the Avs were to get involved, it may not happen until at least a month into the new season. Since I mentioned the , the New York Post reported Sather apparently contacted former Rangers forward 's agent about a possible return of the winger to the Big Apple. Hlavac's best seasons were with the , and since he was dealt to Philadelphia two years ago in the deal, he's been a lost lamb, bouncing from Philly to Vancouver to Carolina, which opted not to re-sign him as a Group II free agent. The offer from Slats supposedly is for one year at $800K. One last bit of news has the Edmonton supposedly interested in bringing back for one last season. Both the New York Post and the Edmonton Sun reported GM Kevin Lowe and head coach Craig MacTavish, both of whom were former teammates of Messier during their playing days, were receptive to the idea of bringing "the Moose" back to Edmonton if the money was right. However, there are too many things that would snarl that process. Messier's salary would probably be too much for the small-market to absorb, and it's believed Messier wants to finish his career on Broadway. There would also be the potential for divisiveness in the dressing room. As Robin Brownlee of the Sun aptly put it, if Messier couldn't deliver on the ice, he'd be just an old man flapping his gums and the players would tune him out. Hmmmm ... you don't think that's been the problem with the recently? The Tampa Bay are still in the hunt for defensemen. According to the Tampa Tribune, GM Jay Feaster is looking for a blueliner who can log over 20 minutes per game, and he hints he'll land one either via trade or the free-agent market. Possibilities among the remaining unrestricted free agents include , and . Finally, if you love wild rumors, you'll love this one, sent to me by three Montreal-area fans claiming they heard it on Montreal's sports radio network The Team 990: The Montreal and Colorado were working on a potential trade that would see the Habs ship goaltender and defenseman to the Avs in exchange for defenseman , forward ... and the rights to . Apparently the Habs would entice Roy to play one season in exchange for then becoming an assistant GM under Bob Gainey after the 2003-04 season. Wooo-weeee, talk about flights of fancy! One key point: Those who started this rumor overlooked Roy filing his retirement papers in July. That means the only way he could possibly play next season is if the Avs — and the other teams in the league — agreed to allow him to play. Call me crazy, but I can't see management taking such a gamble. I acknowledge than anything's possible, but this one has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. At home in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he's known as Lyle Richardson. But around these parts, he's known as Spector, FOXSports.com's Prince of Pucks. Check in with Spector for the latest NHL rumors from around the league and buy his book.
Tagged: Red Wings, Oilers, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Devils, Rangers, Avalanche, Sharks, Blues, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Capitals, Derek Morris, Sergei Fedorov, Patrice Brisebois, Jose Theodore, Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay, Doug Weight, Curtis Joseph, Dan Cloutier, Ken Klee, Jaromir Jagr, David Aebischer, Brent Johnson

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