More confusion as Alex Tanguay nears deal with Tampa Bay

(UPDATE: The Bolts confirm an agreement on a one-year deal with Tanguay, pending a physical next week; the Tampa Tribune has it "in the $2.5 million range.")

How free-agent winger Alex Tanguay(notes) can sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning is beyond us, because he signed with the Florida Panthers earlier this summer.

Wait, what? That Tanguay-to-Florida thing was a load of horse hockey propagated by the Internet rumor industry? Gotcha.

So the former Montreal Canadiens winger is, in fact, free and clear to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which RDS reported he had last night. From the St. Pete Times, off the RDS report:

TSN, a Canadian sports Web site, said the two sides have been in negotiations since July but it was not until two weeks ago when Tanguay was contacted by Lightning stars Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis that he decided to join the team.

The 6-foot, 192-pound Tanguay was sidelined 28 games with a shoulder injury last season with the Canadiens. He finished with 16 goals and 25 assists.

The Lightning had been sniffing around Tanguay for weeks, and the buy out of Vinny Prospal's contract was seen as a potential harbinger for his addition to the lineup. If he ends up in Tampa, you're looking at potentially one of the most dynamic offensive lines in the NHL should Rick Tocchet roll out the big guns together ... along with a second line that will likely live or die on the play of Steven Stamkos(notes). So, basically, it's last year's scenario all over again. And that worked out well, didn't it?

Operative phrase: "If he ends up in Tampa." Our friend Chris Botta, who is a terrific new hire at AOL FanHouse, reports on Twitter that "an exec with the Lightning just told me his team does NOT have a completed deal with Alex Tanguay."

Granted, this could be the "pending a physical" caveat that RDS reported. Or it could be another twist in a confusing offseason for Tanguay.

So Tanguay is/isn't/might still be a Bolt. We're at the point of the offseason where there's more talk about where players aren't signing -- like the denial of Mike Comrie in Edmonton chatter -- than players actually signing. That's because, as Michael Russo of the Star Tribune pointed out in his Tanguay coverage, no less than 11 teams are over or up against the salary cap; which means some pretty significant players could still be available before the start of the season beyond the free-agent scraps still on the market.

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