Kuba clinging to his clause

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Filip Kuba doesn't have any plans to move on.

Though the Senators defenceman could be a valuable commodity on the NHL's trade market with the March 4 deadline just three weeks away, he said yesterday his focus is on trying to make Ottawa successful and he isn't worried about what might lie ahead.

With a host of teams looking for help on the blue line, Kuba, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is among a group of defencemen that might be available at the deadline and includes Florida's Jay Bouwmeester, Pittsburgh's Ryan Whitney, Atlanta's Mathieu Schneider and Anaheim's Chris Pronger.

As the Senators open a five-game, eight-day road trip tonight against the Sabres at the HSBC Arena, Kuba can expect to be getting plenty of attention from scouts, especially when the team makes stops in Minnesota, Nashville and Colorado.

Since Kuba has a no-trade clause in his contract, he controls his destiny to a certain extent. Senators GM Bryan Murray can make a trade with anybody he wants, but Kuba will be able to choose his destination if there are a few teams involved in the discussions.

It's believed the Bruins, Panthers, Sharks, Flames, Wild, Jackets, Hurricanes and Flyers are among the teams looking for help on the blue line.

"I haven't really thought about it at this point," said Kuba. "I guess I can control it, but I don't want to think about it. I just want to focus on the hockey and the way things are going right now. That's what I want to do. I don't want to put my mind on something like trades or anything like that."

Kuba, who waived the clause last fall to come to the Senators in a trade with the Lightning, has one goal and 24 assists in 43 games this season. He has also been the Senators' most consistent defenceman, logging a team-leading 23:44 of ice time per game.

LOOKING GOOD

Senators LW Nick Foligno appears to be a beneficiary of the coaching change. He's been seeing a little more ice time under new coach Cory Clouston and is coming off a two-point performance in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over the Sabres. "I think I've just been playing well and that's helped out a little bit in that area," said Foligno. "I don't think before there were too many of us that I can say we were playing well and I was one of those guys. I just think with (Clouston) I feel comfortable. He has an idea of what I can do on the ice and it has just worked out that way. I'm just trying to do things I know he likes to see."

OFF THE GLASS

RW Shean Donovan and D Alex Picard will both probably be ready to return to the lineup tonight, but that doesn't mean they'll both play. While Donovan will likely come back after missing eight games with a knee injury he suffered in the club's skills competition on Jan. 18, Picard (wrist injury) might have to wait. Clouston said he's hesitant to change the club's blue line because the Senators are playing well defensively. "We'll see how (Picard's) injury is," said Clouston. "It's tough to break our (defencemen) up right now unless necessary. I thought our defence has played well the last couple of games. It's just going to be a matter of time before he works himself back into the lineup." If Donovan does return, RW/D Christoph Schubert will be a healthy scratch ... Clouston said he will use both Gs Brian Elliott and Alex Auld on this trip. "We're going to (need both)," said Clouston, who is expected to start Elliott tonight after he made 28 saves Saturday at home ... Captain Daniel Alfredsson said playing five games in seven days in three time zones will be a tough test, but not as difficult if the club has success on the trip early. "The energy level becomes much less of a question when you're winning because you're always upbeat,' said Alfredsson. "Everybody has a tough schedule in February."


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