The clock is most definitely ticking on Bob Gainey these days.
First off, for the second year in a row, it appears that Gainey's Plan A is not going to work out.
Lightning GM Brian Lawton told the St Petersberg Times that he expects Vincent Lecavalier to start next season in Tampa Bay. Lawton also said Saturday that there were no significant talks of a big trade involving his team.
Meanwhile, Renaud Lavoie reports that Gainey was working until the moments before the start of the draft to try and grab Lecavalier, but that co-owner Len Barrie vetoed the trade. He adds that Gainey will continue trying to pry Lecavalier from the Lightning right up to the start of free agency Wednesday.
Frankly, I have trouble believing either story, at least partially. When Lawton says he "expects" Lecavalier to play for the Lightning next season, it's not exactly a gurantee. Sure, he may expect that to happen, but it doesn't mean it's going to happen.
I also have no doubt that Gainey was trying to work out a trade leading up to the draft, but I also believe that the ship may have sailed on that front because Gainey now has to concentrate on building his team for next season, and he's in far too critical a position to be putting all his eggs in one basket.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported Saturday that Gainey was scheduled to talk to Saku Koivu's agent Don Baizley today at some point, which means he's probably having talks with some of his other key guys as well. I would imagine Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev and maybe even Mathieu Schneider's agents will all get calls today, while Mike Komisarek continues mulling over the long-term deal Gainey has already offered.
Gainey had better sign one or two of his own free agents by Tuesday afternoon or else he risks losing all of them on the open market, which would be an unmitigated disaster because I doubt he'll find a way to replace all of them with quality players in free agency.
A nice one-stop shopping trip would be to talk to J.P. Barry about the Sedin twins, who are back in Sweden. Apparently, Canucks GM Mike Gillis is there as well, again according to LeBrun, so there may be a chance that the Sedins re-up with Vancouver. But if they don't, I'm starting to think they are the best fit for the Canadiens at this point.
TSN's Darren Dreger mentions the Canadiens as a possible landing point for the Sedins, and his stat that the Sedins are two of only a dozen players in the NHL to score 70 points in every season since the lockout makes them a very enticing product.
The Sedins reportedly made an offer to Gillis that they would each sign 12-year, $63 million contracts, which is a rather miniscule cap hit of just over $5 million a season. I think Gainey might jump at that offer, but I also believe it was a bit of a hometown discount, if $126 million could ever be called that.
Gainey, as mellow a guy as you'll find, has to be freaking out a little right about now. July 1 is less than 48 hours away and he hasn't been able to complete a single trade nor has he signed any of his players, which definitely was not his master plan, assuming he had one.
That's not to say the trade market will shut down Wednesday as teams begin their ridiculous derby for free agents, especially if some team out there spends way too much on a given player and needs to shed salary before the start of next season.
But the possibility that Gainey enters the season sitting on a ton of cap space certainly remains, unless he's in the process of weaving some serious magic and negotiating with three or four players at once.
While the announcement that Guy Boucher will be coaching the Hamilton Bulldogs is certainly good news, as I've already made my feelings clear on that issue, the Habs need to get going on announcing some actual player transactions very soon.
Otherwise, what looked to be a summer of opportunity will quickly turn into a summer of doom.
UPDATE: From USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen's twitter feed (you can follow it here) come these two Habs updates:
"GM Bob Gainey will be in discussions again today with agent Matt Keator about new deal for Komisarek. Habs desperate to keep Komisarek"
Then, a couple of hours later, comes this:
"Starting to believe Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin could be $5 million free agents because of the lack of available D men."