Senators brace for trades

Trade speculation surrounds Senators Chris Phillips (top left), Alex Kovalev (top right), Chris...

Trade speculation surrounds Senators Chris Phillips (top left), Alex Kovalev (top right), Chris Neil (bottom left) and Filip Kuba (bottom right). (QMI Agency file photos)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

With seven days to the NHL trade deadline, nobody is sure who will stay and who will go in the Senators dressing room.

GM Bryan Murray spent the long weekend watching top prospects for the draft in June. Indications are he’s also been busy working the phones.

Mike Fisher (Nashville), Chris Kelly (Boston), Jarkko Ruutu (Anaheim) and Brian Elliott (Colorado) are already gone — and they almost certainly won’t be the only ones who will have packed their bags before next Monday at 3 p.m.

“We know there’s probably a few more moves to come,” centre Jason Spezza said following the club’s skills competition at Scotiabank Place Monday. “It will be nice once the deadline is over and we can just focus on the games moving forward.

“There’s some guys with decisions to make. A couple of guys whose names have been mentioned ... don’t want to leave. It will probably be a better atmosphere for everybody on the ice once the deadline is over.”

There is plenty of chatter surrounding the following Senators:

D Chris Phillips

There has been no decision on either side; this one is headed to the wire.

A looming unrestricted free agent, Phillips, 32, has declared he’d like to stay and be part of the rebuild. But Murray hasn’t made a final decision on what direction to take with the veteran blueliner.

Sources say the sides have discussed the parameters of a three-year contract extension. Currently making $3.5 million per season, Phillips would have to take a paycut to stay. He might not be willing.

With a no-movement clause, however, Phillips controls his destiny.

Murray has stated he won’t force Phillips to waive the clause, but if the sides can’t get a deal done, there’s no sense in keeping him.

RW Chris Neil

He has a limited no-movement clause and sources say he has provided the Senators with a list of 10 teams where he can’t be dealt.

With two years left on his contract carrying an annual cap hit of $2 million, Neil is an attractive option for contenders seeking a rugged post-season performer.

There’s talk the Rangers are interested, which would make some sense.

The Rangers tried to sign Neil as a UFA two summers ago, offering him a four-year, $9.2-million deal before he opted to take less money to stay in Ottawa. Rangers coach John Tortorella also tried to persuade Neil, but to no avail.

Nobody is convinced he will be moved now.

D Filip Kuba

He has been a disappointment with no goals in 56 games this season, but there’s interest nevertheless.

The Rangers want to bring in veteran help for their young blue line and Tortorella is a huge fan of Kuba from their days together with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where Kuba thrived.

But his $3.7 million cap hit next season is a huge stumbling block. Kuba would also have to waive his no-movement clause. That shouldn’t be a problem with Kuba likely interested in a fresh start.

RW Alex Kovalev

While there has been plenty of talk surrounding Kovalev, indications are there’s only one or two teams seriously interested. The Senators will give him away for very little.

The Penguins have studied bringing back Kovalev, but just made a deal — sending LW Alex Goligoski to Dallas for LW James Neal and D Matt Niskanen on Monday in another big move.

Spezza said the players understand trades are inevitable for a club in this situation.

“When you’re in last place, and you’re a team that didn’t expect to be there or shouldn’t be there,” said Spezza, “there’s going to be changes made and everybody has to brace themselves for it.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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