March 1, 2010 :: 11:35pm ET
Senators gearing up for deadline day
By David Pagnotta, TheFourthPeriod.com

[TORONTO, ON] -- With around $1.4 million in available cap space, the Ottawa Senators likely aren't finished making moves as the Mar. 3 trade deadline quickly approaches.

Senators GM Bryan Murray wouldn't mind adding another veteran forward and a depth defenseman after already acquiring center Matt Cullen from the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the Olympic trade freeze.

"We're still looking," Murray told the Team 1200 radio station in Ottawa earlier today. "We're talking to teams about an additional D; whether he's a five to six guy. That's sort of what I'm looking for; I'm not trying to interfere with the top-four guys by any means."

With the likes of Nashville's Dan Hamhuis, Carolina's Joe Corvo and Aaron Ward, and Edmonton's Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky leading the list of available blueliners for trade, the Senators certainly have a number of options available to them.

However, Murray admits "there are certainly no high-end guys around at this point in time that you can possibly acquire" because the asking price for most of these players is very high.

The Senators were among the teams interested in Jordan Leopold, but they weren't willing to give up the same price the Pittsburgh Penguins paid (a second-round draft pick).

Another priority for Ottawa is defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who is in the final year of his current contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

According to two sources, the Senators pitched Volchenkov an offer two weeks ago, prior to the Olympic break, and those talks picked up again in the last 36 hours.

Despite the recent activity, there does not appear to be a deal on the horizon and Murray echoed those sentiments on the radio by stating that talks have gone "nowhere."

"I've tried really hard," he said. "I did talk to the agent again today, but the response I'm getting is not what I like, really. I don't know what we can do there, at this point in time."

Murray hinted a trade may be an avenue the team considers, though such a move could hinder the Senators' playoff position as Volchenkov's style is needed when facing off against some of the East's top talent.

"I think you have to consider everything," Murray said. "We'll see what the market comes to bear in the next couple of days."

Frankly, trading Volchenkov for draft picks and/or prospects doesn't make much sense. The 28-year-old's presence on Ottawa's blueline is an important factor for the Senators heading down the stretch and dealing him away could hurt the team, even if they replace his spot on the roster with another body.

Volchenkov is earning $3.2 million this season, with a cap hit of $2.5 million. His salary will likely climb over the $4 million range this summer and if the Senators let him walk, they can think of it as acquiring a rental without having to give up a draft pick or young asset.

In the meantime, Murray and his staff are weighing all options, and they're not alone.

The amount of activity over the last week picked up significantly, and the last 24 hours has allowed for those preliminary discussions to enter the next phase of the negotiating process.

Twenty-two trades were completed on last year's deadline day, and while many aren't expecting to hit that number this season, there will be plenty of action.

"I don't know if there will be a lot, but there certainly will be a few trades," Murray said. "The problem with this year, of course, is only four or five teams are definitely out of the playoffs."

Toronto Maple Leafs senior VP of hockey operations Dave Nonis has briefed GM Brian Burke on all his activity, and the Buds are assessing a number of possible deals -- and no, Tomas Kaberle is not involved in any of them.

The Leafs will be active, with the likes of Alexei Ponikarovsky, Garnet Exelby and Lee Stempniak expected to be dealt by Wednesday afternoon.

Edmonton, Columbus, Carolina, the NY Islanders and Florida are all in selling mode, but that doesn't mean they're going to give their assets away. Players like Souray, Ray Whitney, Raffi Torres, Andy Sutton and Rostislav Olesz will cost teams a pretty penny.


David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the NHL for TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a contributing writer for NBCSports.com and MSNBC.

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