The Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes are both just outside of a wild card berth, but have playoff aspirations that are still very much alive. Expect both to be on the hunt for scoring leading up to the March 5 trade deadline.
The Ottawa Senators find themselves at the Olympic break sitting only one point out of a wild card berth in the Eastern Conference. They're currently locked in a three-way tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.
GM Bryan Murray was actively shopping for help leading up to the Olympic roster freeze. Earlier in the season he sought a top-six winger and a puck-moving defenseman. The emergence of young blueliner Cody Ceci addressed the latter, leaving Murray still seeking that elusive winger.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Murray will keep looking for the right deal to improve his club's playoff chances. Unfortunately, only a handful of teams are currently considered to be sellers so there are few players available to address the Senators' needs. Murray admits the asking prices are high and he's unwilling to overpay for a rental player.
Garrioch claims the Senators are among those with interest in Buffalo Sabres left winger Matt Moulson. His eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July makes him a rental player. Murray's also reportedly looking at St. Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart, who's signed through next season at a cap hit of $4.15 million. He's younger and more physical than Moulson and his contract makes him more than a rental.
For trade bait Murray can draw upon his blueline depth. Veteran Chris Phillips has popped up in the rumor mill, but if the Senators hope to mount a playoff run they'll need his experience and leadership. A better option could be Patrick Wiercioch, who's younger, affordable and struggling to earn big minutes on the Senators' blueline.
If the Blues are willing to move Stewart they could seek a forward, rather than a defenseman, in return. The Sabres, on the other hand, could accept a young blueliner as part of the return for Moulson.
Murray's plans depend on how the Senators perform in the narrow window between the Olympic break and the March 5 trade deadline. Garrioch believes Murray could shift from buyer to seller if the Senators lose ground in the standings leading up to the deadline.
COYOTES ALSO LOOKING FOR A SCORING BOOST
Like the Senators in the Eastern Conference, the Phoenix Coyotes find themselves sitting just outside a wild card berth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes and Dallas Stars have identical records (27-21-10), but the Stars hold a 24-23 edge in regulation plus overtime wins (ROW).
The Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reports GM Don Maloney hopes to enhance the Coyotes' offense despite the slim pickings in the trade market.
Last month Maloney told McLellan he was seeking an upgrade up front, but doesn't want a forward-for-forward deal. The Ottawa Sun recently claimed Maloney had interest in Buffalo's Matt Moulson.
It's also rumored the Coyotes have interest in Dallas Stars winger (and former Coyote) Ray Whitney. With these two teams battling for a wild card berth don't expect the Stars to move him now, let alone return him to the Coyotes. Like the Senators, the Coyotes can draw upon their depth in promising young defensemen as bait for a rental scorer.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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