Johnny on the spot

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Gary Roberts could get a chance to kill the Senators' playoff hopes. Again.

While negotiations with Roberts continued into last night with today's 3 p.m. trade deadline looming, the Florida Panthers have given the veteran winger until this morning to accept a deal to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In what is a cruel irony, the Senators could face the Penguins in the first round of the post-season. That means instead of skating with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, Roberts could be alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the power play.

It's believed Roberts is working all kinds of angles before waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Penguins. There's also talk he wants to either negotiate an extension with Pittsburgh or try to push GM/coach Jacques Martin to deal him to Toronto or Ottawa.

STIFF PRICE TO PAY

Sources say the Senators haven't given up hope. They would love to have Roberts, but not at any price.

Sources say as part of the deal with the Pens, Florida is guaranteed a body off the Pittsburgh roster. An NHL executive told the Sun Martin has asked the Senators for either Patrick Eaves or Antoine Vermette along with a No. 1 pick in exchange for Roberts.

"You can't give up kids like that and expect to stay a contender over a long period of time," said Muckler.

The Maple Leafs hope to hop back into the Roberts derby. Sources say the Leafs have upped their offer to second- and fourth-round picks, along with defenceman Brendan Bell.

The Senators made a deal for a depth defenceman yesterday. The club picked up Washington D Lawrence Nycholat for minor-league D Andy Hedlund and a sixth-round pick. Nycholat will join the club today in Carolina.

The Senators have shown an interest in St. Louis winger Bill Guerin, but the asking price has also been high. Florida left winger Martin Gelinas, who helped Calgary reach the Stanley Cup final in 2004, could be an option, too.

To obtain Guerin, Muckler might consider giving up a No. 1 draft pick and a prospect like D Brian Lee or Russian blue chippers D Vitaly Anikeyenko, C Igor Mirnov and C Ilja Zubov.

He admits, with the exception of acquiring Bryan Smolinski at the deadline in 2003, his deals haven't worked.

MANY DEALS 'FAILURES'

"I would have to say the majority of (the deadline deals in the NHL) are failures because there's only one person who is right every year and that's the guy who wins the Stanley Cup," said Muckler,. "The odds are 1-in-30."

Muckler is shocked by the price that's been paid by rival GMs. The Thrashers gave up three draft picks -- including a first rounder -- and winger Glen Metropolit to get Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis.

"I'm not afraid to make (a deal) this year if it doesn't cost me a future," said Muckler. "Some of the deals, I can't believe they were made. I just think they're bad deals, but that's the way it is. You either meet the market or you don't make a deal."

Will prices drop?

"Yes, there is. That's what we're waiting for," said Muckler. "We're going to stay in the game right until the end. If we have an opportunity to make this team better, we will."


Videos

Photos