Sens want to play Let's Make a Deal

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 PM ET

A For Sale sign has been hung outside Scotiabank Place, but Bryan Murray can’t find any buyers.

League executives told the Ottawa Sun Tuesday the Senators GM is willing to trade just about anybody — except defenceman Erik Karlsson.

With a five-day break and time to ponder what’s gone wrong after an ugly 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs Saturday, Murray was unavailable for comment as he was making his way back from the world junior championship in Buffalo.

Something has got to give here.

Coach Cory Clouston is on shaky ground in the final year of his contract.

If the Senators can’t make a trade, don’t rule out Murray going back behind the bench again. But the GM doesn’t want to do that.

The top priority is a trade. Murray won’t deal the 20-year-old Karlsson, who has been the club’s best player and is tied with captain Daniel Alfredsson for the team lead in scoring this season with 24 points.

But there could be options:

n Centre Mike Fisher, who has two years left on his contract, has been mentioned. While there are teams looking for a hard-nosed player in the middle, it’s doubtful Fisher will be going anywhere. He has a no-movement clause and doesn’t have any desire to be dealt.

“That’s what happens when you’re on the outside looking in from a playoff spot halfway through the year. People want to panic. We’re not the only team in this situation, but in this city, sometimes you’d think so,” said Fisher.

“There are people in those positions who are going to make decisions and I’m not in one of those positions. I want to stay here and play here and I love it. Apart from that, I’m not going to sit and dwell on something that’s not really up to me.”

n Veteran defenceman Chris Phillips, 32, who has been with the organization his whole career, is set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The two sides haven’t had any contract talks, but Phillips has made it clear he wants to stay.

If Phillips wants a long-term deal, he’s likely not going to get it here. Burned by winger Dany Heatley after he signed a seven-year deal, owner Eugene Melnyk might not like the idea of another long contract.

Phillips would have to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt.

“Phillips would be a good rental,” said one league executive. “He hasn’t had a great year (at minus-15), but what makes him attractive is the fact he plays his best hockey in the playoffs.”

n Winger Jarrko Ruutu, a healthy scratch the last two games, is also a potential UFA this summer.

He likely won’t be back with the Senators and is a pest to play against when he’s at his best. There are going to be teams looking for that element at the deadline.

“I’m not happy about (being scratched). I want to play, but I don’t make those decisions,” said Ruutu. “I don’t really pay attention (to the rumours). It doesn’t really affect me.”

Being unable to make a deal is the worst-case scenario for Murray. His hands are tied with the team up against the salary cap and top centre Jason Spezza on the shelf for six weeks with a shoulder injury.

“It’s a terrible place to be in,” said a league executive late Tuesday. “It’s really hard to make trades when you’re not winning because you aren’t dealing from a position of strength.”

The status quo cannot remain. It isn’t working.


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