Atlanta burning for Schneider?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Ducks defenceman Mathieu Schneider could finally be on the move.

League sources say several teams are trying to coax cash-strapped Anaheim GM Brian Burke into making a trade.

While Los Angeles and Vancouver have been said to been potential landing spots for the 16-year NHL veteran, league sources say New Jersey, Atlanta and St. Louis are in the thick of things, too.

Of the three new players in the Schneider sweepstakes, only Atlanta has the cap room to add him without making other roster moves.

"(GM) Don Waddell needs to do something in Atlanta," a league executive said yesterday. "The Thrashers aren't a very good team and a guy like Schneider (could) help that defence."

Already over the $56.7-million (all terms US) salary cap by almost $2 million, Burke would rather not take back any salary, but his hands could be tied if he wants to get Schneider's $5.625 million salary off the books.

The Kings are willing to take Schneider if Burke wants to make the deal. Sources say GM Dean Lombardi has offered defenceman Tom Preissing, the former Senator who has three years left on his contract at $2.75 million per season.

Burke has so far has turned down any offer that requires taking money back, which is why Schneider hasn't been traded yet.

Senators GM Bryan Murray held talks with Anaheim in the summer, but he and Burke couldn't work out a deal.

LOOKING GOOD

Senators G Martin Gerber wore his new mask last night against the Flyers, but he wants to see how it feels before committing to it for the rest of the season. Gerber has discarded the all-black mask he wore last season for now, but that doesn't mean it won't be back. Asked if he likes being called "Darth Gerber" because of the Star Wars motif to his new mask, Gerber said: "I think it's funny." Gerber said the mask was designed by Swedish artist David Gunnarsson. "I wanted to make sure that I still had the black in it. That was important to me. I liked the black one. This one is pretty good. I think it offers me a little more protection," said Gerber, who added that he first discussed the possibility of the mask design with an equipment manufacturer. "We'll see," he said when asked if he's going to wear it in the regular season. "I'm going to try it over the next few days and see how it goes. It (the design) was more from Itech. We thought it was an interesting subject to put on, while still being dark and not too flashy. I think it was a really good design." Somebody asked Gerber if the mask reflected his personality. "No, it's got nothing to do with it ... It's just a mask."

CUTTING DOWN

The Senators reduced their roster by seven players yesterday, sending G Jeff Glass, D Mattias Karlsson and Fs Danny Bois, Josh Hennessy, Alexander Niklulin, Ryan Shannon and Ilya Zubov to Binghamton of the AHL. The decision to send Hennessy down means his days in the organization are numbered and it's doubtful he'll be recalled this season. It also means the deal by former GM John Muckler to send RW Martin Havlat to Chicago in a three-way with San Jose for Hennessy, Preissing and D Michal Barinka (now in the Czech Republic) ranks as one of the worst trades in team history. Thirty players remain in camp: Three goalies, nine defencemen and 18 forwards. More cuts will be made before the club leaves for Stockholm late Sunday.

MUCKLER SPEAKS

Muckler, hired by Phoenix on Tuesday as a consultant, was on a Toronto radio station yesterday. Asked why he was fired by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk following a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, Muckler started to answer, but held back. "There were a lot of reasons," he said. "None of them were right." He also added he'll be interested to see how the Senators defence reacts this season without Ds Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros.


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