Bell hopes to rise to Sens' defence

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Rebuffed in attempts to sign Brian Campbell, the Senators are talking to another former 67's star who might be able to help their defence.

Either now, or somewhere down the road.

Unrestricted free agent Brendan Bell confirmed yesterday that the Senators are one of four teams with whom his agent, lawyer Larry Kelly, has had serious discussions on a two-way contract.

The 25-year-old Ottawa native hopes to be off the market by the weekend, but is also taking the "if something's worth waiting for, you wait" approach.

"I just want an opportunity," Bell said yesterday at the 7th Annual Rautins-House Celebrity Golf Classic at Rivermead. "Ottawa seems like a great opportunity."

Bell has, in the past, exhibited the puck-moving, offensive skills the Senators organization requires in a blueliner. His best of four seasons under 67's coach Brian Kilrea was his last, the 2002-03 campaign which saw him score 14 goals and 39 assists for 53 points in 55 games -- efforts that earned him recognition as the Canadian Major Junior Defenceman of the Year.

A third-round pick (65th overall) of Toronto in 2001, Bell had seasons of 25, 31 and 43 points for the Maple Leafs' AHL team before getting a chance to play with the Buds in 2006-07. With the Senators' Ontario rivals, he had a goal and four assists in 31 games, then was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes a the trade deadline, along with a second-round pick, for veteran centre Yanic Perreault and a fifth. Bell finished the season with Phoenix, but failed to entrench himself on coach Wayne Gretzky's blue line. In 2007-08, he played just two NHL games and 69 with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage, where he seven goals and 24 assists.

Currently, the Senators defence consists of Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov and Jason Smith, with Brian Lee and Lawrence Nycholat expected to make the jump from Binghamton. Christoph Schubert would give them six, but if and when a deal is reached with restricted free agent Andrej Meszaros, Schubert would likely remain a two-way player the Senators would also use on the wing.

Winchester native Matt Carkner, who was re-signed by organization earlier this off-season, is also a candidate for the Senators blue line.


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