TRADE TALKS IN­EVITABLE WHEN TEAM DOESN’T WIN

Sen­a­tors play­ers know GM Do­rion look­ing to make sig­nif­i­cant moves at dead­line

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - BRUCE GAR­RIOCH bgar­rioch@post­media.com Twit­ter: @sun­gar­rioch

The Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors are open for busi­ness.

And, with less than two weeks to the Feb. 26 NHL trade dead­line, it will be hard for play­ers to ig­nore all the talk as Sen­a­tors gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion works the phones to try to get deals in place to try to get the or­ga­ni­za­tion back to re­spectabil­ity.

While not ev­ery player is up for dis­cus­sion, league sources say Do­rion has been one of the NHL’s busiest GMs in the last week as he pre­pares to send play­ers pack­ing for young play­ers, high-end prospects and draft picks in re­turn, which means this team could look a lot dif­fer­ent af­ter the dead­line.

As the Sen­a­tors pre­pare to face the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in a re­match of last spring ’s Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal — which now seems like a dis­tant mem­ory — the Sen­a­tors know changes are on the hori­zon.

“It’s al­ways a dis­trac­tion around ev­ery team in the league and ev­ery player,” said cen­tre Der­ick Bras­sard fol­low­ing the club’s skate at Canadian Tire Cen­tre on Mon­day morn­ing be­fore a one-hour flight to Pitts­burgh. “It’s the busi­ness part of it and we’re on the wrong side of the line right now, so the GM has the right to make changes and build the team he wants. There’s a lot of guys whose (con­tracts) are up here in the next cou­ple of years, so we’re go­ing to see what hap­pens.”

There’s been no short­age of Ot­tawa names floated on the trade mar­ket with for­wards Mike Hoff­man, Zack Smith, JeanGabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzin­gel and Bras­sard at the fore­front, along with de­fence­men Cody Ceci, Dion Pha­neuf and Johnny Oduya, who is in the fi­nal year of his deal and would be a pure rental.

Pha­neuf is in­ter­est­ing to watch be­cause it’s be­lieved the Los An­ge­les Kings have cir­cled back a sec­ond time about a deal.

The Sen­a­tors and Kings had ex­ten­sive talks dur­ing last year’s NHL draft in Chicago be­cause the sense is Los An­ge­les likes what Pha­neuf can bring to the ta­ble.

Yes, many play­ers have strug­gled this sea­son, but Pha­neuf has been con­sis­tently dif­fi­cult to play against and he’s a com­peti­tor. Of course, if this deal is go­ing to hap­pen, the two sides are go­ing to have to work out money be­cause Pha­neuf has a cap hit of US$7 mil­lion through 2020-21 on his con­tract.

But Pha­neuf wouldn’t be the only one dealt. Sev­eral teams have called about Hoff­man, Smith, Pageau, Bras­sard and Ceci.

The Sen­a­tors aren’t go­ing to give their play­ers away, how­ever. They need to get re­turn be­cause part of the plan is to set this or­ga­ni­za­tion up down the road so its headed in the right di­rec­tion.

It’s be­lieved one of the teams that has shown se­ri­ous in­ter­est in Bras­sard is the Pen­guins be­cause they’d like to bulk up for an­other long play­off run and he was a solid per­former in last spring ’s post-sea­son with Ot­tawa.

Bras­sard has been through it be­fore — in­clud­ing be­ing dealt from the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets to New York Rangers only 15 min­utes be­fore the 3 p.m. ET dead­line in 2013 — so he knows how ev­ery­body is feel­ing.

“I’ve got traded two times now. It’s part of the game,” Bras­sard said.

“Ev­ery­body has dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions with their con­tracts. Play­ers are leav­ing ev­ery­where and it’s pretty hard to keep the same core to­gether. What­ever is go­ing to hap­pen on (Feb. 26) is go­ing to hap­pen and you can’t re­ally con­trol any­thing.

“I’m not read­ing the pa­per or any­thing. Ev­ery­one has so­cial me­dia, as soon as one guy knows, I think it’s ev­ery­where. You can’t con­trol any­thing you just have to play and try to do your best. We’ll see what’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

Asked if any­one from the Sen­a­tors had spo­ken to him about the trade talk, Bras­sard smiled and said: “They haven’t talked to me at all ... No, not re­ally.”

Coach Guy Boucher told re­porters the only fo­cus for the Sen­a­tors’ play­ers should be the Pen­guins on Tues­day night at PPG Paints Arena and they should leave it to the me­dia to worry about trade talk.

“We never talk about it. That’s your jobs,” Boucher said. “It re­ally be­comes an in­di­vid­ual thing, and I have no clue what (the me­dia) asked this morn­ing, and I’m not go­ing to go ask them be­cause then I’d spend my whole day with ev­ery player.

“The play­ers have seen this be­fore. Most of the times it’s the younger guys and it’s tougher for them to fig­ure out and they see the sur­round­ings. A lot of the guys who have seen this the last seven or eight years have lived it and they know of all of these ru­mours there might be a oneper-cent chance some of those things will hap­pen.

“If you worry about what’s go­ing to hap­pen later, you’re not taking care of to­day.”

If the Sen­a­tors had taken care of their to­day ear­lier in the sea­son, a lot of play­ers would be get­ting ready for the play­offs and not thinking about pack­ing their bags.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors for­ward Der­ick Bras­sard has been part of NHL trade dead­line deals and says the play­ers are well aware of all the trade ru­mours, no mat­ter how hard they try to ig­nore them.

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