NHL's new era putting a cap on trade prospects

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Senators fans waiting for GM John Muckler to pull the trigger on a big trade would be advised not to hold their breath too long.

While the Senators are off to a slow start, managing only 17 of 40 possible points in their first 20 regular-season games, that doesn't mean Muckler can make wholesale changes via the trade market.

Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough told the Sun yesterday fans are going to have to face the new reality of the salary cap and predicts there will be very few trades.

"I know you guys don't want to hear this, but there is 'zero' discussions," said Risebrough before last night's game at Scotiabank Place. "Just think about it. It's hard to do. I mean you can't find a fit. It's got to be $7 million for $7 million. It's got to be $2 million for $2 million.

"The reality of it is, our business has changed. I guess if you look at the system that has the cap, which is (the NFL), they're the same way, right? You pile it up in the summer, make changes at the end and start again."

Risebrough is stretching the truth a bit by suggesting there are "no discussions." More than 12 teams have called Muckler to see which players might be available, but he's resisted those overtures. Most of the callers want players like Ottawa centre Antoine Vermette and defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who are younger and don't carry hefty price tags.

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Ideally, the Senators would like to sign a second-line centre to play with captain Daniel Alfredsson. The club hasn't been able to find the right fit on the trade market and might have to wait until the deadline in February -- when the also-rans are holding fire sales for draft picks -- to make it happen.

But Risebrough said he believes making a trade in an environment where 26 teams are close to the $44-million cap will be "closer to impossible than difficult."

"There's a lot of people who would like to think it's more possible, but I don't think that's the case," said Risebrough.

"There is some (teams having discussions to have discussions). And yes, they lead to nowhere because there just isn't much opportunity. It's been growing like that for a lot of years because not everybody is a fit. If you are a team that's in a youth movement, don't call me up and say: 'I want to get one of your younger players.' The agendas are narrow. I don't make any bones about it because there are some discussions, but I don't think much becomes reality. Let's face it: I haven't seen many discussions that have really produced ... Some of the changes are forced changes."

Risebrough said before the salary cap era, teams used to be able to make changes and trade each other's problems.

"That's the old business. It's not as possible as it was," said Risebrough. "You sign a guy to a long-term contract and he's not playing well, who is going to take him?

"That's why it's important to sign players and scout players. My point is ... there's probably less probabilities."

REDDEN RETURNS: Senators D Wade Redden, who missed four games with a groin injury, was back in the lineup last night against the Wild. Redden only told coach Bryan Murray a couple of minutes before the morning skate ended that he was ready to return. "I just told him to play well. Let's leave it at that," said Murray."I don't know if he's 100%, but he indicated he could play and he's been skating hard." Redden, who averages 27 minutes of ice time a game, has been out for a week with a groin problem which has hampered him since training camp. "I've skated on it hard and it's reacted well," said Redden. "It's something I will have to keep an eye on and keep working at it." Murray was asked if he was happy to get Redden back earlier than expected. "It's a long time," said Murray. "If you're the coach making up the lineup, it's a long time ... long enough."


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