TRADE TALKS INEVITABLE WHEN TEAM DOESN’T WIN
Senators players know GM Dorion looking to make significant moves at deadline
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.
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.