With the conclusion of the NHL All-Star festivities, the focus now turns to the fast approaching trade deadline — Feb. 28.
Among the teams reported looking to sell, Ottawa appears to be the most serious.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray has made it clear that the teams' veteran future free agents are going to be available before the trade deadline. Ottawa is currently in 13th place, at 17-25-8 in the Northeast Divison and is on its way to missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Among the potential Ottawa trade candidates is longtime defensemen Chris Phillips. The former first overall pick in 1996 would be a nice fit in Boston, suggests Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
Before the All-Star break, Phillips made it clear that he'd like to play for a playoff contender, telling the Canadian Press, "Yeah, and I want this team to be a contender."
But with the Senators sitting 13 points out of a playoff spot, Phillips' 12-plus years in Ottawa are likely coming to an end if he plans to make good on those words.
The veteran blueliner has a no-trade clause and carries a $3.5 million dollar cap hit. He is scheduled to become a free agent in July.
When asked if he would be willing to wave his no-trade clause, the 32-year-old said, "That's something that has to be decided on the other side and then we'll talk about it, but I'm still not sure where that stands."
As things stand now, the Bruins have the prospects to make a deal and close to $1.7 million of cap space — a figure that could rise depending on the health of Marc Savard. However, with the size of Phillips' contract, the Bruins would likely need to include another roster player in the deal to stay under the salary cap.
If Savard's health continues to be an issue and the center is placed on long-term injured reserve Phillips, who leads the Senators in hits and blocked shots this season, could be a nice fit. The blueliner has missed just one game in the past four seasons and has played effectively with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara in the past.
According to Garrioch, right-winger Jarkko Ruutu, center Mike Fisher and defenseman Sergei Gonchar are also available, although given Gonchar's contract size and disappointing play, he'll likely stay put.
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