Sens in for holly Olli day?

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Senators might still find help before the NHL's 3 p.m. trade deadline today, but it doesn't look like it will be coming from the Sunshine State.

While the Senators have been led to believe the Panthers would try and sign centre Olli Jokinen, one of the most sought-after players in the lead up to the trade deadline, sources late last night indicated the Panthers and Jokinen remain far apart and a deal involving the Senators might still be possible.

Jokinen, 27, is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, making him a perfect rent-a-player heading into today's deadline.

"It looks like they are going to try and sign him," Senators coach Bryan Murray said just before last night's game between the Senators and Panthers.

But a source close to the situation said Jokinen could still be in play.

MUCKLER TO MAKE LAST PITCH

It's expected Senators GM John Muckler will make one more run at Panthers GM Mike Keenan, just to make sure Jokinen can't be had, but then Muckler will have to shift his attention in other directions.

According to a couple of league insiders, the Senators are looking at forwards Ryan Malone of the Penguins (and also made inquiries about Mark Recchi), Mark Bell and Tyler Arnason of the Blackhawks and veteran forward Dallas Drake of the Blues. There have been talks between the Senators and Coyotes GM Mike Barnett about the availability of Shane Doan, but they were only superficial.

Muckler said earlier he is also interested in a depth defenceman. Luke Richardson of the Blue Jackets interested the Senators, but he went to the Leafs for a fifth-round pick last night. That leaves Eric Weinrich of the Blues as a possibility.

The Senators signed 31-year-old minor-league defenceman Brad Norton to a two-way NHL deal yesterday making him available down the road, if needed.

Jokinen, predictably, said he is interested in staying here.

He has seen lots of players come and go from the Panthers organization since being brought to the team, along with goaltender Roberto Luongo, by Murray, then the Florida GM.

"I've been here six years and Roberto and I are the only two guys left," said Jokinen. "Scott Mellanby, Pavel Bure, older guys were here then. All gone. We're the older guys now. It's been a little tough. That's a lot of change over the years."

"For the last five years, this organization has moved people at the deadline," said Panthers coach Jacques Martin, making it pretty clear the Panthers were going to try to hang on to their assets.

"What's going on?" was the most-asked question yesterday as the Senators reported to the rink for the morning skate before last night's game.

There has been lots of talk heading toward today's trade deadline, just not much action until things started to get rolling last night with a couple of deals -- the biggest of which saw the Canadiens send goalie Jose Theodore to the Avalanche for netminder David Aebischer.

The fact the trade deadline is two weeks earlier this year, reducing the number of teams who feel they are out of playoff contention, and the restrictions of the salary cap make player movement tougher.


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