GM not giving up on Olli hunt

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:49 PM ET

TURIN -- The Senators are still hot on the tail of Florida Panthers centre Olli Jokinen.

Two NHL sources told the Sun yesterday Senators GM John Muckler failed in an attempt to get the Florida captain before the NHL's Olympic roster freeze.

According to one source, Muckler was huddled with Florida counterpart Mike Keenan during the recent GMs' meetings in Las Vegas, but the two sides couldn't come to a final agreement on a deal.

But the source said both teams agreed there would be more discussions closer to the NHL's March 9 trade deadline because Florida isn't willing to make a move at this point.

Following last night's final game before the Olympics, Muckler, along with assistant GM Peter Chiarelli and the scouting staff, will head to Florida to discuss what might happen next.

Not only will Muckler have to surrender the Senators' No. 1 pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft to get the 27-year-old Jokinen from the Panthers, there's talk Florida might also want injured winger Martin Havlat as part of the deal.

Though Havlat is supposed to be back in time for the playoffs, he is only a year away from unrestricted free agency and it could be difficult for the Senators to keep him long-term.

Keenan's No. 1 priority is to get Jokinen signed to a contract, but the two sides are nowhere close to that happening after he rebuffed a four-year, $16-million US offer last week.

"We are talking, but there's a significant difference between us," Jokinen's agent Todd Diamond said last night from Moscow.

The Senators would like to add more depth at centre sooner rather than later to take some of the pressure off Jason Spezza.

Last month, Muckler lost out in a bid to get centre Doug Weight from the St. Louis Blues when he was outbid by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The roster freeze will be lifted Feb. 27, the day after the Turin Games wrap up.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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