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Sean Bergenheim’s agent says it’s ‘not going to be easy’ for Lightning to sign him before July 1

Jun 18, 2011, 12:20 PM EST

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Sean Bergenheim AP

As much as the hockey world has justifiably heaped praise upon Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman for a great first year of work, one could say that his “real” work begins this off-season. He faces the task of re-signing (or deciding not to re-sign) some free agents who were integral parts of the team’s cup run, from restricted free agents such as young star Steven Stamkos to unrestricted players including Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer.

While those aforementioned free agents were expected to be tough decisions for Yzerman, there were also two pending free agents who exploded onto the scene in the 2011 playoffs: Sean Bergenheim and Teddy Purcell.

Purcell quietly had a better overall playoff run in my opinion (Purcell had 17 points versus Bergenheim’s 11), but Bergenheim could be a tougher guy to keep because he’s primed to be an unrestricted free agent while Purcell will be restricted. It’s obvious that Bergenheim deserves a nice raise from the $700K he made in 2010-11, but figuring out a proper price might be difficult.

That’s a situation that his agent Todd Diamond* acknowledged to Tampa Bay beat writer Damian Cristodero, although it’s said that there could be some posturing going on.

Diamond on Friday said the sides have “right now agreed to disagree” on a new contract.

Asked if he believed a deal could get done before July 1, when Bergenheim hits the open market, Diamond said, “It’s not going to be easy, but stranger things can happen.”

He only scored a career-high 29 points during the 2010-11 regular season, so it’s not as if he was clearly building toward a hot postseason. Did Bergenheim really have a breakthrough in the playoffs or did he simply engineer an out of left field run that won’t be duplicated? We won’t begin to find out until after he signs his next contract, which could make things very interesting. Yzerman made all the right moves so far, but it will be intriguing to see how he handles this and many other questions this summer.

* – Talk about a name that’s too good to be true for an agent, eh?

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