Sens GM ordered to dump salary: NHL execs

According to league sources Senators GM Bryan Murray has indicated he’s trying to shed salary....

According to league sources Senators GM Bryan Murray has indicated he’s trying to shed salary. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency Files)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Certain Senators might want to turn off the ringers on their phones.

The Senators had Sunday off after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay at Scotiabank Place, but Ottawa is no longer at the point where it can try to build off what is nothing more than a gutsy loss.

Two league sources told the Ottawa Sun that in trade talks with other teams, Senators GM Bryan Murray has indicated he’s trying to shed salary.

Owner Eugene Melnyk declined to speak publicly about the Senators’ situation last week during the team’s five-day break, but other teams told the Sun that Murray has been instructed to get money off the books before the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline.

Spending close to the $59.4-million (all terms US) salary cap, Melnyk needs Ottawa to make the second round of the playoffs to break even. That’s not going to happen and the best Melnyk can hope for now is to cut his losses.

The list of potential candidates to be moved is long:

- Pending unrestricted free agents Chris Phillips and Jarrko Ruutu will draw the most interest. The Senators would like to move winger Alex Kovalev, but the market for him appears to be small.

- Defenceman Filip Kuba, who has $3.7 million left on his contract next season, is also being shopped, as is fellow blueliner Brian Lee. A league executive said Kuba could draw some interest.

- The Senators could also see if they can drum up interest in forwards Peter Regin and Milan Michalek.

Murray indicated last week trying to make trades is difficult because teams need to make deals that are “dollar-for-dollar.”

If he’s in the unenviable position of trying to unload salary, there aren’t many teams that have cap space.

If he can’t make a trade, the only option for Murray might be to go behind the bench to try to salvage the season.

Going into the weekend, he called games against the Blackhawks and Lightning pivotal and all the Senators earned was a single point in a shootout loss to Chicago.

Where that leaves coach Cory Clouston is uncertain, but what is for sure is that the Senators are on a five-game losing streak and sit 11 points behind the eight-seeded Canadiens in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re also eight points behind the ninth-place Hurricanes.

In other words, making the playoffs isn’t likely happening.

“We’re all in this together from the owner down,” centre Chris Kelly said after Saturday’s loss. “We’re all working hard for one another. We all want to succeed and we all want to do well.

“That shows when we come out and compete and the effort level is there most nights. For whatever reason, we’re not finding those bounces. Especially (Saturday), I don’t know how the puck stayed out a few times.”

It’s been that way all season for the Senators. They are ranked No. 29 in the NHL in goal scoring with 93 in 42 games. Only the Devils are worse with 72 goals, which just shows you how far Ottawa has fallen.

“We’ve just got to keep playing the way we’re playing,” said Kelly. “If we were playing horrible and weren’t in games, then there’s something we could change or something that needs to be addressed.

“Those are two good teams and we played well enough to win both games. It’s tough. You can’t let the emotion of losing get to you in the next game. You have to park it and focus on the next game.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos