Sens: Buyer or seller?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The Senators will head their separate ways following tonight's game -- their last before the all-star break -- against the Capitals.

If they don't get their act together, some players could be packing their bags for good next month.

Senators GM Bryan Murray hasn't decided yet whether he will be a buyer or a seller at the March 4 NHL trade deadline, but tonight's result against Washington at Scotiabank Place will give him a full week to ponder whether his team really has a chance to earn a playoff spot.

Since most league executives are expecting changes in Ottawa, Murray will likely spend a lot of time before the Senators take on the Devils next Tuesday listening to proposals from clubs that are looking to bolster their lineups for the post-season.

While teams are calling about the usual suspects --forwards Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette, Chris Neil and defenceman Christoph Schubert -- the Senators are bound to receive inquiries about the availability of blueliner Filip Kuba and winger Jarkko Ruutu before the deadline.

League sources say Murray has received interest from the Oilers about Fisher and the Blue Jackets about Spezza. Murray has maintained he wants to keep his core group of players.

While Schubert has been the most often mentioned defenceman in trade rumours, there is a strong belief Kuba, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is making $3 million US, might be the club's most attractive commodity. Several teams -- including the Rangers, Devils, Flames, Flyers, Canucks, Panthers and Stars -- are looking for blue-line help.

"I don't know how much (the Senators) are going to be able to do," said a league executive. "It's so difficult to make deals right now. Not only does it have to be dollar-for-dollar, there's no chance you can afford to take on salary."

It will be up to the players to decide what direction Murray takes. Following yesterday's action, the Senators are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, 13 points behind the eighth-place Panthers.

Ottawa has teased its fans by earning five points in the last three games.

"I don't know if we feel more confident," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said of the team's mini-surge. "We feel good about getting points and playing pretty good, but at the same time we can't be satisfied. We've got to keep pushing ourselves. We have to get our consistency. If we can find ways to win, and get the feeling back, I'm sure we'll win a lot more games."

Senators coach Craig Hartsburg wants to see is a strong effort.

"We have to continue the team part of the game," said Hartsburg. "We have to have to be a good team every night to have a chance. It's not going to be two or three guys who are going to win it for us. We have seen some of that progress. We've played a tighter, better game, helping our defence.

"We're going to have to do a great job against Washington in those areas. It's easier to sell when people see what they're doing is giving us a chance to win. We've gone through this at times where we've done it for three or four games and then we fall off. This is a big test because we weren't perfect against Montreal, but we found way to get a point."


Videos

Photos