Talking trade may top GMs' agendas

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- NHL GMs have a wide variety of topics to cover today in Toronto.

So when Senators GM John Muckler and his 29 counterparts gather at a downtown hotel for meetings, there's certain to be more than just NHL business on the agenda.

While salary arbitration and the unbalanced schedule are the hot topics to be discussed during their five-hour meeting, Muckler will continue his search for a No. 2 centre.

The most obvious name on the list is Vancouver's Brendan Morrison.

Sources say Canucks GM David Nonis wouldn't mind moving Morrison to shed the veteran's $3.2 million (all terms US) salary.

"You can't really stop people from writing what they want," Morrison said yesterday. "It's just another rumour, I guess. You deal with it. It comes with the job."

THE LIFE OF BRIAN: Former Senators D Brian Pothier, signed to a four-year, $10-million contract in the off-season by the Caps, is enjoying his new role. While he was a No. 5 defenceman with the Senators, Pothier is the top guy on the Washington depth chart, playing an average of 27 minutes a game. "It's been different, there's no question," Pothier said before last night's game against Ottawa. "I didn't expect to get as much playing time as I have and, to be honest, it's welcomed. But I find when you play as much as I'm playing and you're on the bench, then you get into the game a lot more." Asked if the Caps expected to play Pothier as much as they have when they signed him to a contract, coach Glen Hanlon said with a laugh: "If we didn't, then we've overpaid him ... but he fit the role of the type of player we were looking for because he was one of the younger free agents on the market and we knew he'd fit in well with what we're trying to do here." Pothier said there has been a bigger adjustment coming to a young team. "The expectations are different here. We've got a really young team and we play with a lot of energy. In Ottawa, you're expected to compete for a Stanley Cup and the pressure is different. Here it's not the same," said Pothier.

OLIE'S GOOD: Capitals G Olaf Kolzig said yesterday that he doesn't have any regrets about signing a five-year contract extension with the club last season and believes Washington will be a Stanley Cup contender. "You can ask for a trade and go to a contender. You are not guaranteed to win," said Kolzig, who was almost traded to Ottawa at the deadline in March, 2004. "Your odds improve dramatically in the short term, but you also lose a little bit of stature as well. I've been here 17 years now. I've built up some status in the organization and when you get traded you lose that. I just thought: 'You know what, it's a rarity for guys to start and finish with the same team. Why not try and win it here with the team that drafted you?' I think that would be the ultimate if we could do it in the next three to four years." Kolzig said Caps GM George McPhee is following the route taken by the Lightning by building around a young star like Alexander Ovechkin. "You have a young core come in at the same time," said Kolzig. "Let them go through the tough times early and the longer they play together, obviously the chemistry is going to get better. As the years go on you add pieces to the puzzle like a Nikolai Khabibulin and Darryl Sydor. They are going in the right direction here. It's going along the same lines. Hopefully, we can copy the model and in two years be the team hoisting the Cup."

AROUND THE GLASS: Ottawa D Wade Redden, nursing a sore groin, wasn't ready to return against the Caps, but hopes to play tomorrow in Atlanta. "It's feeling pretty good. I just want to make sure I push it a bit before jumping back in there," said Redden ... Ovechkin's English has improved since last season, but he hasn't taken any lessons. "I watch ESPN. I listen to my teammates talk to the media, read books and watch movies. That's how I learn," said Ovechkin.


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