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NHL Rumor Mill 7/3: Free agency negotiation window opens

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents

In a first for the NHL, free agency unofficially opened on Wednesday morning with a two-day window for "wining and dining," a period where free agents and different teams can talk. At this point deals can be agreed upon and announced, though nothing can be official until free agency technically opens on Friday, July 5.

So with that, here's the scuttlebutt from around the NHL on Wednesday.

Free Agency Rumors
You can forget about any concerns over Nick Leddy's future with the Blackhawks. According to Chris Johnston, the restricted free agent is on the verge of signing a new deal.
Do the Lightning still need a goalie? Steve Yzerman doesn't think so. He says the team is going to stick with the Ben Bishop, Anders Lindback duo they have in net (via Mike Corcoran).
The Blues seem to be a bit under the radar but perhaps not anymore. Adrian Dater is hearing that the Blues are one of the teams showing interest in Jarome Iginla.
All the talk about Daniel Alfredsson on Wednesday was about the Bruins but Bruce Garrioch suggests the San Jose Sharks were another team that reached out to Alfie's camp.
Mike Ribeiro is near the top of best free agents in this class, a guy that can fill top-six center needs. So how has the interest been in him so far? "Good. Very good" his agent Don Meehan told Craig Custance.
The Islanders might be out of the Danny Briere race but apparently not the Devils. According to Tom Gulitti, New Jersey is still in the mix to sign the veteran. The Devils fit the bill for near to Briere's home in Philadelphia, one of his considerations.
Who is interested in Nathan Horton? Apparently the Blue Jackets. Aaron Portzline says they are "definitely pursuing" the winger. It was suggested he'd like a quieter market, Columbus should fit that profile.
The Islanders seemed like such a good potential fit for Danny Briere -- who said he was talking to eight teams -- but apparently he doesn't agree. Arthur Staple reports the Isles are not one of Briere's finalists.
Danny Briere was made a free agent when the Flyers bought him out and there has been a lot of interest. The forward said that he is talking to eight different teams, saying the Sabres are one of them (via Buffalo news).
Tim Thomas asked his agent to explore a return to the NHL for the veteran goalie and he responded. Per Tim Pannacio, Thomas' agent Bill Zito reached out to the Flyers. They need a goalie and have been speculated the most to be a fit for Thomas but cap space is an issue at the moment.
St. Louis has a logjam in net with Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen all there but GM Doug Armstrong doesn't see any of the trio not being there when the Blues open camp (via True Hockey).
Nathan Horton is one of the biggest free agents on the market this year -- read into the market's worth as you will. He told the Bruins he wasn't going to come back so where might he go? Pierre LeBrun says he's looking to get out of the spotlight and go non-traditional market. Dallas, maybe?
Atop the Red Wings' wish list in free agency is finding a second-line center. They are apparently very interested in Stephen Weiss as that guy per Helene St. James.
The Bruins had already parted ways with Jaromir Jagr but that was before Nathan Horton said he was leaving. Could they go back to Jagr? GM Peter Chiarelli said they're thinking about it (via NESN).
It's not about who the Predators are signing on this one but who they are losing. Sergei Kostitsyn was placed on waivers and Bob McKenzie says it could be for a mutual termination of the contract. Kostitsyn is expected to head to the KHL.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi is now free to talk with other teams but the Kings continue to try and hammer out a new deal, per LeBrun. Making it work under the cap is the challenge.
Defense is definitely not a strong suit of this market and it got a little weaker when Jordan Leopold re-signed with the Blues on a two-year contract.
The free-agency talking window opened with a bang as the Bruins reportedly zoomed in on Daniel Alfredsson right from the beginning. Hard to see him in anything but a Sens sweater but you never know.
The Canucks began the buyout process of Keith Ballard's contract on Wednesday, meaning they have a bit more cap room. Further, it means that Alex Edler is no longer trade bait according to Darren Dreger.
 
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