OTTAWA - The Senators aren’t dangling Jason Spezza in trade talks. But that doesn’t mean other teams aren’t asking about the star centre.
So desperate to make a trade after years of failure, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is getting plenty of heat to use his No. 8 overall selection in Friday’s NHL draft to get help immediately.
While Howson talked to the cash-crunched Philadelphia Flyers about centre Jeff Carter, it was suggested in Wednesday’s Columbus Dispatch that Howson may also make a pitch for Spezza.
According to the report, the Jackets aren’t going to be able to find what they want in free agency on July 1. The market is thin with Brad Richards the only true No. 1 centre available.
“There’s a scarcity of centres available by trade, too, at least the kind that we would want,” Howson told the newspaper. “We’ll make the move as long as it makes sense to us and we’re excited about it.”
It would take a lot to pry Spezza away from Senators GM Bryan Murray. Spezza has four years left on his deal, with a cap hit of $7 million per season and has made it clear he’s willing to buy into Ottawa’s rebuilding program.
As noted by Don Brennan in Wednesday’s Ottawa Sun, the Senators need to get Spezza offensive support, not take it away. That doesn’t mean Murray won’t make moves. If the Flyers are trying to unload pricey players, the Senators would certainly have an interest in either Carter or Mike Richards.
The Senators, who are in rebuilding mode, would have to decide how quickly they want to make a playoff run and if that kind of investment is going to be worth it for the long haul.
The Senators also have some players they would like to unload. The club has been trying to move defencemen Filip Kuba ($3.7 million in 2011-12) and Sergei Gonchar ($5.5 million for each of two more seasons) without any success.
Murray has been fielding calls on winger Nick Foligno, but it’s doubtful he’ll be dealt, either. Don’t be surprised if the Vancouver Canucks, who were run out of the rink by Boston in Game 7 of the final, make a pitch for winger Chris Neil.
The Canucks coveted Neil’s toughness at the deadline but didn’t make the deal. He’d have to agree to waive his no-movement clause, but did submit a list of 10 teams to the Senators where he can’t be dealt.
He has two years left with a cap hit of $2 million per-season, but you’d have to think coach Paul MacLean would want to have Neil around.