Time for executive decisions

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

John Muckler is in the Sunshine State today for what could amount to a make-or-break winter shopping trip.

If the Senators general manager is determined to tweak his roster before the trading deadline on Feb. 27, then he's going to be busy as he gets together with the rest of the league executives today in Naples, Fla.

While there will be the usual discussion about rules and equipment at the GM meetings, most of the interesting talk is going to take place in the hallways as teams prepare to make moves before the deadline.

Sources say Muckler, who just wrapped up meetings with his pro scouting staff, would like to add two players before the freeze takes place: A "veteran-type" winger and a "depth defenceman."

Florida's Gary Roberts and St. Louis' Bill Guerin are both available and would fit the bill at the wing position. Either could step in nicely to play on the ever-changing right side with centre Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

As for the defenceman, Carolina GM Jim Rutherford has an abundance of blueliners and can likely expect a call from Muckler.

There's also talk Los Angeles could send Brent Sopel to Canada's capital.

It's believed acquiring a winger is the top priority.

Panthers coach and GM Jacques Martin has been hesitant to admit his club isn't going to make the playoffs, but he did tell a Florida newspaper on Saturday he's looking at dealing before the deadline.

If Martin does decide to ship out Roberts, it won't be solely for a draft pick.

In fact, a rumour from a Toronto-based TV network had Ottawa winger Patrick Eaves headed to the Panthers for Roberts.

"If you can get a player who's going to help the organization for a number of years, I owe it to the organization to listen to that," Martin told the Palm Beach Post.

It's believed there are as many as 10 teams bidding for Roberts, who has a no-trade clause. Ottawa, Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo are all considered top contenders to land the 40-year-old power forward, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989.

"My approach is, if we can (acquire) a valuable asset, fine," said Martin. "If not, then I still have a responsibility to provide a good entertainment package to our fans."


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