Bell to toll in Russia?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Brendan Bell has a chance to patrol the blue line in Russia next season.

But he'd rather ply his trade in Ottawa than Moscow.

The Senators defenceman, who can become a restricted free agent on July 1, has received interest from two teams in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, but Bell's lawyer, Larry Kelly, told Sun Media that his client's No. 1 priority is to remain in his hometown next season.

Though Bell hasn't received any concrete offers from the KHL, indications are teams overseas would be willing to pay more than $1 million (all terms US) tax-free to the offensive-minded defenceman. Kelly said he hasn't had any serious discussions with any Russian team because that's not what Bell wants.

"He'd like to remain with the Senators. He wants to be part of it here," said Kelly. "He really enjoyed his experience here last year. That's the No. 1 goal for him; Brendan wants to return here."

Bell, who earned $500,000 last season, had six goals and 15 assists in 53 games with Ottawa.

But the former 67's captain could be caught in a numbers crunch along the blue line.

The Senators signed 2008 No. 1 pick Erik Karlsson to an entry-level deal last Thursday, which means they have nine blueliners under contract.

League sources say Senators GM Bryan Murray has been shopping veteran defenceman Jason Smith and defenceman/winger Christoph Schubert. To keep Bell in the fold, somebody will have to be moved.

There aren't any guarantees that Karlsson is going to make the team, but he's being brought in to try to run the power play.

The Senators could trade Bell's rights before he becomes an RFA or they could qualify him with a contract that includes a minor-league clause.

"We'll sit down with them at some point in the near future and see what their thoughts are," said Kelly. "We haven't had any talks recently. (Bell) certainly showed last year he can play and contribute at this level."

Luke moving on?

The talk in league circles is Senators coach Cory Clouston is looking for a former player to round out his staff. Sources told Sun Media that former Senators D Luke Richardson is not likely to return. After retiring as a player following a 22-year career early last season, Richardson was added to the club's coaching staff and worked in the press box for former coach Craig Hartsburg and Clouston. The indications are Richardson was welcome to return and was offered a contract, but the Ottawa native may have decided to step back to spend more time with his family. Assistant coaches Greg Carvel and Eli Wilson are expected to return.


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