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Clock keeps ticking on Havlat contract talks
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Martin Havlat


Associated Press

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Published: 6/22/2009 9:54 PM | Updated: 6/22/2009 10:06 PM

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This could be a key week in the Blackhawks' attempt to re-sign Martin Havlat before the veteran winger becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Hawks general manager Dale Tallon plans to speak face to face with Havlat's agent, Alan Walsh, this week in Montreal while there for the entry draft.

"We've still got time, but not a lot of time," Tallon said Monday. "We're going to do everything in our power to keep him."

The lengthy negotiations indicate there are obvious differences in what Havlat feels he's worth and what the Hawks are willing to pay and for how long. Should Havlat reach unrestricted free agency on July 1, it is believed there would be a number of teams interested, including Montreal, Edmonton and the New York Islanders.

The closer it gets to July 1, the better the chances become of Havlat testing the free-agent waters to see what other clubs believe he is worth.

"It's all part of the process," Tallon said. "When you're about to become a free agent it's only natural to maybe want to see what other opportunities are out there. We'll know by July 1 what direction we'll be going."

Tallon said there is no deadline to sign Havlat, but the Hawks likely will look to go another direction in terms of finding a scorer should Havlat not be signed in the days leading up to July 1.

There figures to be some very good scorers available as unrestricted free agents, such as Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Mike Cammalleri. Any one of them could be temping to the Hawks as a replacement for Havlat and his 29 goals and 77 points.

Tallon also expects to speak with goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's agent this week to "see what's going on," although it's still likely Khabibulin will sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.

In addition to trying to re-sign Havlat, the Hawks must sign their own key restricted free agents, a group that includes Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager and Troy Brouwer.

With the Hawks expected to target a defenseman in free agency, there are rumors they have explored trading Barker.

"We've got a lot of work to do and a lot of guys to sign," Tallon said.

Circle your calendar: USA Hockey announced that its men's Olympic orientation camp will take place Aug. 17-19 at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge.

Patrick Kane certainly will be among the approximately 30 players invited to attend by USA general manager Brian Burke.