Havlat for Cole?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Ottawa hockey fans might want to keep an eye on Carolina Hurricanes winger Erik Cole. You can bet the Senators will be watching closely.

Indications are the Senators tried to deal Martin Havlat straight up for Cole last month.

But sources say those talks took place before Marian Hossa was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Dany Heatley.

"The Senators really like what a guy like Erik Cole brings to the table because he's hard-nosed, he's got pretty good skills and he's not afraid to pay the price," said a league source. "They think he's a playoff performer."

The sources say talks happened while the Senators were having trouble signing Havlat and the Canes were facing issues with Cole. Havlat signed a one-year, $2.6 million (all figures US) deal and Cole agreed to a one-year, $1.2 million deal.

Havlat will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2005-06 season and if he has a strong year he'll be able to demand a big raise.

Cole won't come cheap. Carolina coach Peter Laviolette is a huge fan of Cole, who could wind up playing for Team USA at the Olympics.

Ottawa has already made several changes -- sending centre Radek Bonk to the Montreal Canadiens via Los Angeles, dealing Patrick Lalime to the St. Louis Blues, signing free agent goalie Dominik Hasek and making the huge Hossa-for-Heatley move.

The Senators studied the possibility of moving centre Bryan Smolinski last month, but couldn't find any serious interest. The Senators aren't exactly deep at centre and may find themselves pursuing another middleman later this season.


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