Mats Sundin likely to return: Leafs GM and agent

Admitting it's only a hunch, Mats Sundin's agent said he believes the veteran Toronto Maple Leafs captain will be back for another season.

Toronto Maple Leafs interim general manager Cliff Fletcher told reporters on Tuesday he believes Mats Sundin will return for another NHL season.

"We will know before July 1 what his feelings are," Fletcher said. "There is no doubt in my mind, whether or not he has said it.

"Mats is going to play next year. You don't retire after having the type of year he had last year, which was terrific — his best year in the last four or five."

"The question," Fletcher continued, "is will he be playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs."

Sundin, 37, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, giving him the freedom to sign elsewhere.

But should he choose to re-sign with Toronto, the Maple Leafs will grant him a no-trade clause.

"If Mats comes to me and says I will sign, but I have to have a no-trade contract and it is a one year contract, he has got it," Fletcher said.

Fletcher is in agreement with Sundin's agent, J.P. Barry, who told the Toronto Star this week his hunch is that the Swedish centre will return.

Barry noted that he hadn't spoken to Sundin about Ron Wilson becoming the next head coach of the Maple Leafs.

Wilson said at Tuesday's media conference that "selfishly" he would like to coach Sundin, but whether that happens is up to the player and the organization.

'Mats is in Spain'

Sundin is making his annual trip to Europe, but this time with a difference as he and fiancee Josephine plan to marry.

"Mats is in Spain right now," Fletcher said. "We will be hearing from him or communicating with him in the next week to ten days — well ahead of July 1, free-agency day."

Sundin finished with 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points in 74 games last season, leading Toronto in scoring for the fourth consecutive campaign.

The franchise leader in goals and points, he has played the last 13 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, who acquired him from the Quebec Nordiques in a blockbuster trade on June 28, 1994.

Sundin has posted 555 goals and 766 assists for 1,321 points in 1,305 NHL games since he was drafted first overall by Quebec in 1989.

With files from the Canadian Press