Five Sens who could be traded

Senators winger Nick Foligno will attract plenty of interest if the team decides to try and move...

Senators winger Nick Foligno will attract plenty of interest if the team decides to try and move him. (QMI AGENCY)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:08 PM ET

Bryan Murray will get down to business this week as the NHL’s GMs gather Wednesday in New York for their annual meeting during the Stanley Cup final.

While the topic of bringing in hybrid icing is No. 1 on the agenda, there will also be plenty of trade talk as teams prepare to make off-season changes with the NHL draft and free agency just around the corner.

Murray’s top priorities are to get an answer from captain Daniel Alfredsson on what he’s going to do next season and re-sign blueliner Erik Karlsson.

Decisions also have to be made on pending unrestricted free agents Matt Carkner, Filip Kuba and Zenon Konopka.

But this week, Murray gets a chance to talk trade.

Here are five Senators to watch on the market:

No. 1:

Nick Foligno

A restricted free agent July 1, Foligno is going to get a qualifying offer, but there’s no way he will sign it and this could be a tough negotiation for the Senators and their top pick from 2006.

The Senators aren’t sure what they’ve got in the 24-year-old Foligno. The left winger finished this season with 15 goals and 32 assists (decent numbers), but went through prolonged scoring slumps.

At times, Foligno has left the Senators wanting more and that’s the message Murray delivered during their post-season meeting: If Foligno is going to be back, the team wants him to a be consistent, top two-line player.

If Murray decides to deal Foligno, there will be plenty of interest. Teams love his potential.

No. 2:

Sergei Gonchar

Signed as a UFA three years ago, the 35-year-old is heading into the final year of his contract and will be trade bait.

Gonchar, scheduled to make $5.5 million next season, has a no-movement clause, so he controls his destiny if the Senators do decide they want to move him. He won’t be shopped, but you can be assured Murray will listen to offers.

The Senators were pleased with the way Gonchar finished last season. He was a strong, consistent performer, but there are a number of teams looking for veteran defencemen — including the Flyers.

The Flyers have Gonchar listed as one of the possible replacements for Chris Pronger, whose career may be over due to post-concussion syndrome.

This one is going to be interesting to watch. The potential is certainly there if the Senators want to deal.

No. 3:

Robin Lehner

The Senators will likely bring Lehner to camp to challenge Ben Bishop for the backup job behind Craig Anderson.

The club wasn’t thrilled with the way 20-year-old Lehner developed last season in Binghamton.

His work ethic was called into question, but he’s showing signs of maturity and that’s a positive for his career.

You can’t fault Lehner for wanting to be in the NHL and thinking he’s good enough to be here. He had a 3-2 record with a .901 save percentage in the five games he played with Ottawa last season. Pretty good numbers.

The Senators are going to get offers for Lehner because of his talent.

They have to decide if he’ll be able to handle being sent back to the minors after camp if he doesn’t beat out Bishop for the job.

No. 4:

Zack Smith

If he’s moved, Smith is simply a victim of depth at centre.

There has been plenty of talk about the Senators bringing back Chris Kelly from the Bruins as a UFA on July 1. He is currently negotiating a contract with the Bruins, but the two sides aren’t close to a deal.

If Kelly does take a hometown discount to come back to the Senators, Smith could be squeezed out by the move, especially after Peter Regin was signed to a one-year, one-way $800,000 deal.

Smith, 24, isn’t going to fetch a lot in return, but he showed this season he’s an everyday NHL player, who can contribute in virtually every situation. His name will certainly come up in trade discussions.

No. 5:

Bobby Butler

Moving Butler and his $1.2-million contract for next season would be a miracle.

The Senators will likely try to get something done after Butler scored six goals in 56 games this season, but it would be a tough sell for any team to give him a fresh start with that contract attached.

There is no question Butler has great hands. The right winger just didn’t score with them very often. If he’s not scoring, then he’s not helping. He had his chance as a top-six forward several times, but couldn’t get it done.

The best move might be to buy out Butler at one-third of his deal and take the $200,000 cap hit for the next two years.

If a trade can be made for a late-round pick, then the Senators should jump on it.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca

 


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