Update (11:46 AM)
You've probably already seen Bruce Garrioch's report in the Sun stating "Sources told Sun Media last night that Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have told the Senators they intend to pursue Meszaros if Ottawa doesn't deal him to the Bolts".
If I'm Bryan Murray and I want to handcuff Tampa, I give Ray Shero a call and offer up my second rounder for Tampa's third (acquired in Malone deal) and another lower pick. (Ottawa has already traded their third rounder to Nashville on draft day). Probably not smart for T-Bay to tip their hand unless they already have a deal in place to reacquire that third rounder (Edit - according to Kevin Lee, they do).
Of course maybe Murray isn't that interested in trying to retain Meszaros, given the apparently significant divide in salary expectations and that now this has given him the leverage to make a deal elsewhere before the offer sheet is signed, knowing that the starting price is the value-equivalent of a 1st, 2nd & 3rd..
You have to think that with a team like Vancouver still hunting for talent by any means necessary, the Kings' brass would surely sleep better at night knowing they have O'Sullivan and Stoll's signatures on contracts. The last thing you want is another team throwing your salary structure out of whack by forcing you to match an offer that's much greater than what you were intending to pay. After Meszaros, those really are the final two talented RFAs out there - although with LA having so much cap space perhaps teams will consider it a waste of time to pursue one of those players, inevitably resulting in a new 'enemy' that may come after one of their players next summer.
At least we finally have some interesting hockey news to discuss...
Update (1:23 AM)
Just changed the title to reflect the fact that despite the original report that the offer sheet was agreed upon, nothing has been signed & announced as of right now...
Update (12:12 AM)
I assume that the lack of an announcement means that an offer sheet has not yet been signed, although reportedly the terms have been agreed upon. This likely means that one or both teams involved would prefer to make a deal rather than proceed with the signing of the offer sheet. Either way if Adam Proteau's original source is correct, I think that Meszaros has played his last game with the Sens and the only lingering question is whether Ottawa will get a 1st, 2nd & 3rd or a different package in a deal.
I really (REALLY) can't see the Sens matching a long-term deal averaging over $5 mil per to keep Meszaros around - especially given that Phillips and Volchenkov will count for a total of $6 mil in each of the next two years. They're better off getting the compensation and bringing in a guy like Schneider who I'd guess could be acquired relatively cheaply.
Will be interesting to see how it unfolds and Bryan Murray's reaction to the situation..
Update (8:12 PM)
Here's my chart going through all the possibilities. We know that the picks have to be in the 09 draft and that the team giving up the picks must have their own selections. We know that the team needs to have $5 mil+ in cap space once the season starts. And we know that the team needs to have a pretty significant need for a blueliner. We also know that a team would not be wise to deal a potential Top 5 pick in next year's draft in order to pay a player who often struggled last year $5 mil+ over a long-term deal - but that some teams and/or GMs are desperate to make the playoffs.
BUT.. A team could potentially re-acquire it's own pick, or free up cap space or deal an extra blueliner for talent elsewhere.
Based on all that info and a very unscientific process, here's my list of potential destinations and my top 'contenders' along with their current bluelines:
We know that Mike Gillis was and still is looking to make an impact-type move. If Mats is a no-go this may be his best option with camp not too far off as it will allow him to make a subsequent move and deal a defender.
We also know that Brodeur is getting up there in age and I'm sure Lamoriello would love to make one more run. In order to do so the Devils really need to bolster their blueline and they haven't had a lot of success in that area in recent years in terms of additions.
Rounding out the top three is Tampa. I think based on their roster and the style of the new owners they are a strong contender although it would mean re-acquiring that pick from Pittsburgh.
The other three candidates (Atlanta, Columbus, NY Islanders) are all possibilities but I think it would be a terrible move for any of those three to trade their picks for Meszaros, especially with the very real possibility of a Tavares/Hedman-calibre pick in the first round. Atlanta is the least likely after drafting Bogosian and signing Hainsey although they may decide to give Bogosian another year to develop. Columbus must be nearing the point of desperation to make the playoffs, making them a definitely wild-card along with the sometimes unpredictable Isles.
(Note that traded draft pick info may not be 100% accurate as my the section on primary source (prosportstransactions.com) for that info is down at the moment. I will update the chart later in the evening if you notice any errors)
Team TBA - Breaking news from The Hockey News' Adam Proteau:
"Hours after Ottawa GM Bryan Murray held a news conference to announce the team was at a contractual impasse with restricted free agent defenseman Andrej Meszaros, The Hockey News has learned from a source close to the negotiations that Meszaros has agreed to a multi-year offer sheet with an average salary in excess of $5 million per season."
Compensation would be a 1st, 2nd & 3rd if under $5,231,249.
More to come I'm sure..