Spezza: Talk 'a distraction'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Jason Spezza won't be looking for a new home after tomorrow's trade deadline.

"I'm not too worried. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here after the deadline," said Spezza. "People need something to talk about around here, so I'm not surprised."

He's one of the few Senators that are safe.

While Senators GM Bryan Murray has ruled out dealing his top centre at the 3 p.m. deadline, that doesn't mean he won't be trying to make changes as contenders do their final shopping for a run to the post-season.

"Not one call about (Spezza) so you can put that to bed as not being real," said Murray. "I read all kinds of rumours that I shouldn't read because it's bad for me, but I do. Some of them are way out of line. We just want (Spezza) to play well here."

There's no hurry to make a decision because Spezza's no- movement clause doesn't kick in until July 1, 2010. So Murray's focus is pending UFAs Chris Neil and Filip Kuba along with little-used winger/blueliner Christoph Schubert.

As reported by Sun Media yesterday, Neil's agent, Todd Reynolds, will be in town today to see if the two sides can bridge the huge gap to keep the rugged winger in Ottawa. As for Kuba, the two sides have had discussions, but Murray admitted: "I don't know how far we've gone -- I don't think very far."

Sources say the duo could be packaged and sent to San Jose. Kuba said he'd like to stay with the Senators, but is prepared to move on.

"If we can't get anything done here and a trade comes up, I would waive my no- trade clause," said Kuba, who has also drawn interest from the Capitals, Canucks, Bruins, Devils, Wild and Flyers.

It's believed Neil, 29, is seeking a four-year deal at an average of $2.5 million (all terms US) per-season and Kuba, 31, would like a similar length contract in the $4-to-$4.5-million range. Murray said he has to be careful.

"It's not only next year when we're talking about contracts of this nature," said Murray. "You have to have a plan two, three and four years out.

"When you do your budgeting, you have to have a long- range plan as well and that's what's difficult about giving these people (Kuba and Neil) term and that amount of money they're asking for."

Murray said he has received calls on some of his other players. It's believed the Columbus Blue Jackets have asked about Antoine Vermette and are trying to trade injured goalie Pascal Leclaire to Ottawa. GM Scott Howson, who also covets Chris Kelly, was here for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs.

"It's a distraction," said Vermette. "I try to do my thing and not think about it. I don't follow the latest rumours."

The Senators haven't ruled out putting goaltender Martin Gerber, who is in Binghamton, back on re-entry waivers today to see if anybody bites at half of the $800,000 remaining on his salary. All 29 teams passed on him last Friday.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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