Dealing worth the Weight?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Senators GM John Muckler doesn't have an itchy trigger finger -- with no trades on the horizon.

But he is sniffing around.

While Muckler will meet with the scouting staff in Florida this week to discuss this year's NHL draft, that won't stop him from looking at what the club's needs are with the March 9 trade deadline approaching.

"I'm pleased with our team," said Muckler. "I'm not sure if we're going to do anything or we have to do anything. If I see an opportunity to improve our team, then I'm going to take it."

With their success this season, the Senators have no reason to shake up their roster too much.

The buzz is the Senators are the frontrunners for St. Louis centre Doug Weight, but sources say there haven't been any serious talks.

NO-TRADE CLAUSE

Though there's a belief the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames are interested in Weight, it should be noted he's an unrestricted free agent with a no-trade clause in his contract.

That means he'll have the right to choose his destination and sources say Weight's No. 1 choice is the Senators.

Some reports claim the Blues would ask for centre Antoine Vermette or defenceman Anton Volchenkov in return for Weight -- but that may be unrealistic.

Indications are the Blues won't get much more than a draft pick for Weight or winger Keith Tkachuk, who they're also trying to move.

The Senators will also keep an eye on Florida centre Olli Jokinen. He wants to stay with the Panthers and will open contract discussions with GM Mike Keenan shortly, but if he doesn't sign he'll be in demand.

If Muckler wants to make a move, owner Eugene Melnyk is also going to have to buy into the plan. Melnyk has said the club is going to have to get to the third round of the playoffs to make money and has already committed $35.6 million (all figures US) in salary to the payroll.

"My belief is a lot of teams will hang on for Weight and Tkachuk until the NHL trade deadline is closer because nobody wants to spend the money," said a league executive yesterday.

Muckler admitted trade talk might heat up before the Olympic break beginning Feb. 12. Teams out of the playoffs --Florida, Columbus and Chicago for example -- have already come to the realization they need to unload and reload.

"My sense is that if teams are going to make moves before the Olympics they're going to do it for the long term," said Muckler. "The moves made after the Olympics will be the rent-a-player situations where teams are just loading up for the playoffs.

"I do think we're going to see some movement (under both scenarios) because teams want to make moves especially with the new salary cap in place."


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