Don't expect Sens to be Weight lifter

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

This rumour doesn't carry any weight. As the Senators took on the Montreal Canadiens last night at the Corel Centre, wild speculation out of Toronto had Ottawa talking trade with the Blues for centre Doug Weight.

In return, Senators forwards Vaclav Varada and Bryan Smolinski were rumoured to be headed to St. Louis, but sources told the Sun there's "no truth" to any discussions between the teams.

Talk is the Pittsburgh Penguins are making a pitch for Weight.

BACK IN GOOD BOOKS

The Senators had been checking the interest in Varada, but the winger is back in the club's good books and has worked his way off the fourth line to make a regular contribution.

As for Smolinski, the Senators couldn't be happier with him. After a difficult start, he has accepted his role as a No. 2 centre while contributing the odd goal and showing leadership.

"I've really liked the way Smolinski has stepped up for us. He's doing the job on and off the ice," GM John Muckler said yesterday.

Making a deal for Weight or anyone else doesn't make sense at this time. Muckler has insisted he won't make any trades unless they're out of necessity or to add somebody at the trade deadline.

Weight is an unrestricted free agent with a no-trade clause. His name is going to come up a lot between now and the trade deadline March 9, but it's doubtful he'll end up in a Senators uniform.

IN THE DOGHOUSE: After dropping to the fourth line, Senators LW Antoine Vermette's next stop may be the press box. Vermette, a natural centre, played on the left side of Chris Kelly and Brian McGrattan against the Habs. Vermette knows he has to improve and has had a frank discussion with coach Bryan Murray about his slump. "I know when I played with Peter Schaefer and Martin Havlat that we started off pretty well and that we didn't do much," said Vermette. "I know I have to be better. Maybe I've been putting too much pressure on myself and then I don't end up doing much." The Senators aren't ready to give up on Vermette because they believe he has plenty of upside potential, but they need more production out of him. He didn't help his cause by taking two penalties in the first period against the Habs.

HEADED TO TURIN: Frantisek Hossa, the coach of Team Slovakia and the father of former Senators winger Marian, is in town this week getting a look at players for the Winter Olympics in February. It's no surprise that Hossa has already decided Senators D Zdeno Chara will play 35 minutes a night at Turin, but he also said rookie D Andrej Meszaros is going to get a chance to play a big role. "He's a strong player. We can always use strong players," said Hossa. Chara said Meszaros is ready for the challenge. "He's played really well for us so far and he's such a solid young player," said Chara.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators LW Dany Heatley is the subject of a feature in this week's Sports Illustrated. Though the article talks a lot about Heatley's deal to Ottawa last summer for Marian Hossa, there's a good quote from Flyers GM Bob Clarke about the Heatley-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson line. "All three are very smart on the ice," Clarke said. "When you get three players who can think the game plus have their skill, you have a very dangerous line combination. They always have the puck, (so) you're chasing them all the time."


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