Sens say Chara, Redden off-limits

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Is his name John Muckler or Monte Hall?

The Ottawa Senators general manager must feel like the former host of TV's Let's Make A Deal after reading and hearing about all the supposed trades he is going to pull off in the coming days.

Muckler wants to set the record straight.

Yes, he is actively searching to improve his club by the March 9 trade deadline.

But any swaps will not involve defencemen Zdeno Chara or Wade Redden despite scuttlebutt to the contrary.

"Absolutely not," said Muckler of his two blue chip defencemen, both eligible for free agency this summer.

"But no one believes you when you make a statement like that, no matter how many times you say it."

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Muckler finds himself in a similar situation to that of Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson.

Ferguson has a pending unrestricted free agent in defenceman Bryan McCabe, who is said to be seeking a five-year deal worth $5 million-plus US per season.

If the two parties can't come to an agreement in the coming days, there has been speculation Ferguson might deal McCabe in order to get some kind of return for him. Otherwise McCabe would be free to leave during the summer.

"It shouldn't be a distraction at all," McCabe said yesterday. "That trade stuff comes and goes every year."

For his part, Ferguson is not expected to deal McCabe away.

And when it comes to Chara and Redden, neither is Muckler.

Keep in mind there could be an outstanding pool of upper echelon blue liners available on the open market during the off-season.

McCabe, Redden, Chara, Ed Jovanovski and Nicklas Lidstrom are among those whose contracts run out at the end of the season, although the Red Wings are said to be working on an extension for Lidstrom.

Chara, meanwhile, is not worried about his contract status at this point. Not when his Stanley Cup aspirations continue to burn so strongly.

"My first priority is this team, and trying to make us the last team to leave the ice in late spring," Chara said.

"For sure I want to stay in Ottawa. I like the city. I like the fans. There have been some (contract) talks already so we'll see how it goes."


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