More trades a coming

The Senators are in full rebuild mode and general manager Bryan Murray isn't done dealing assets...

The Senators are in full rebuild mode and general manager Bryan Murray isn't done dealing assets yet. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:58 PM ET

The rebuilding of the Senators is already in full swing with Mike Fisher being dealt to the Predators on Thursday.

That was just the beginning.

The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 28 and Senators GM Bryan Murray got a jump start on things by trading away the team’s most popular player for a first-round pick in June and a conditional pick in 2012 (a pick that dissolves to nothing if Nashville doesn’t win one round in the playoffs).

If Murray was capable of dealing the Senators’ heartthrob and all-around good guy, then there can’t be a single player who isn’t feeling at least at little bit uneasy.

Out with the old and in with the new.

As Murray prepares to turn around a franchise that has hit rock bottom, there’s plenty of anticipation about who’s going where and what’s coming back.

Veterans like Chris Phillips, Jarrko Ruutu and Chris Neil will likely follow Fisher out the door.

If Murray is going to set the course for the future, it’s going to involve a lot of young players and saving cash.

As pending unrestricted free agents, Phillips and Ruutu are as good as gone.

Defenceman Filip Kuba, centre Chris Kelly and Neil are also drawing interest.

It would be hard to believe anybody would touch veteran winger Alex Kovalev, but stranger things have happened.

Murray has met with all the players who have no-movement clauses who he’s considering dealing.

There is going to be plenty of interest in Phillips. The Canadiens, Bruins, Sharks and Ducks all want help on the blue line.

A better fit for Anaheim might be Chris Campoli, who can become a restricted free agent this summer.

Phillips will be allowed to pick his destination because of his status with the Senators and within the community.

Montreal makes sense because it’s close to Ottawa and Phillips has a relationship with former Senators and current Habs coach Jacques Martin.

And don’t forget it was Habs GM Pierre Gauthier who used the No. 1 overall selection in the 1996 draft to take Phillips.

If the Senators make a trade with Montreal, Ottawa would like to acquire forward Max Pacioretty as part of the deal.

Dealing with the Habs would be difficult for the Senators because they’re a Northeast Division rival. A lot of Ottawa hockey fans will be keeping a close eye on the Habs in the playoffs.

The Bruins could be a good fit as well. It would be an easy transition because Phillips has played with captain Zdeno Chara in the past.

Boston, however, is likely more interested in adding a puck-mover and Phillips isn’t going to fill that role.

So, what can Murray expect to get in a trade?

“You’re probably talking about draft picks,” a league executive said before the Fisher deal was made. “I’d try to get a player for Phillips just because he’s been with the franchise for so long, but people shouldn’t expect a lot back.”

This is the new reality of the salary-cap world, folks.

If you’re a team close to the cap, then you can’t afford to keep players who aren’t getting the job done and a lot of GMs still have a strong belief in the fresh start.

Of course, the Senators are getting a lot of calls on their young players, but guys like blueliner Erik Karlsson or winger Nick Foligno aren’t going anywhere.

Moving money off the books will give the Senators financial flexibility next season.

The $4.2-million US cap hit for Fisher is gone. The contracts of Pascal Leclaire, Kovalev, Phillips and Ruutu will follow suit in the off-season.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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