Sens unlikely to pursue Bertuzzi

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

The chances of Todd Bertuzzi wearing a Senators jersey after tomorrow's NHL trade deadline are slim.

While sources say Senators GM John Muckler made an inquiry about Bertuzzi's availability earlier this season, there have been no discussions lately and none are expected before tomorrow's 3 p.m. deadline.

There's a belief among NHL insiders that Vancouver GM David Nonis is trying to drive up the asking price for Bertuzzi by telling other Stanley Cup contenders the Senators are a major player in the talks.

Not only is the $11 million (all terms US) Bertuzzi's due over the next two years on his contract a stumbling block for the Senators, so too is the Canucks' asking price.

Though no names have been mentioned, it's believed Nonis would want winger Antoine Vermette and defenceman Anton Volchenkov in return. That doesn't clear nearly enough salary off the deck to add Bertuzzi.

But Muckler has made inquiries elsewhere:

- The Senators have talked to the Penguins about veteran wingers Mark Recchi and John LeClair. Recchi is the top priority for Ottawa because he's an unrestricted free agent and would bring a veteran presence to the club. LeClair has been a disappointment in Pittsburgh, but certainly has loads of playoff experience. All that being said, don't forget the club is getting winger Martin Havlat back from a shoulder injury.

- It's believed the Senators are among a group of teams that has made inquiries into the availability of Sharks centre Alyn McCauley. The former 67's captain would be a nice fit in an Ottawa uniform and was a killer for the Leafs during the playoffs in 2003. But the Senators aren't alone in their pursuit. The word is the Canadiens have offered winger Richard Zednik in exchange for McCauley, while the asking price from Ottawa could be Vermette.

- The Panthers are listening to offers for veteran winger Gary Roberts, but the $2.5 million remaining on his contract is a major concern for Muckler. The Senators have also held talks with Florida about centre Olli Jokinen, but there's a good chance he could finish the season with the Panthers while GM Mike Keenan continues to try to negotiate a contract for the pending unrestricted free agent.

- The Senators have held talks with the Wild about goalie Dwayne Roloson, but Minny GM Doug Risebrough is asking for a top prospect in return and it's more likely he could be dealt to the Canucks. The Oilers are also making a pitch for Roloson, but Risebrough has no interest in helping out the team the Wild is chasing for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

A number of NHL executives believe the trade deadline is going to be quiet because so many teams are still in contention for a playoff spot.

"With a March 9 deadline, fewer teams can unload because they are still in the race," a league executive said. "Being eight points out does not eliminate you today because there's still 40 possible points up for grabs."

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The Sun's Bruce Garrioch will be conducting a live online chat about tomorrow's NHL trade deadline this morning at 11 a.m. on SLAM! Sports.


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