Dreger on Senators: ‘Focus right now is on Mark Stone’

The coming week will mark an important chapter in the tale of the Ottawa Senators.

Darren Dreger had a Monday morning radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050.

With the upcoming February 25 trade deadline quickly approaching and the future of pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Ryan Stone with the team still unclear, the Insider was asked if it was imperative to the future of the organization that they try to move Duchene, Stone and Ryan Dzingel “and try to get as much as they can for them, rather than re-signing them.”

“They don’t feel, given everything they’ve got coming and what they have in youth on their existing NHL roster, that they’re that far away from flipping the switch from a rebuild into a real competitive team, and then again not that far away from being a playoff-worthy team,” indicated Dreger. “Now is that two years, is it three years. Melnyk says that he’s going to start spending to the cap in 2021. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it, and I think that’s kind of the way that most - even those employed by the Ottawa Senators - look at it.

“I can tell you that the focus right now is on Mark Stone. As far as Matt Duchene is concerned, I think he’s getting traded. Unless there’s a last-second change here where Mark Stone comes out today or tomorrow - I think today’s a game day, so he probably wouldn’t do it today - and says, ‘Look, I’m not signing. I understand. If you want to trade me, trade me, but I’m not signing.’

“If that happens, and I expect it’ll happen between now and Wednesday where he’s got to define his direction of ‘I’m signing’ or ‘I’m not,’ then that shifts.

“And then maybe if he says, ‘I’m not signing,’ he goes back to Duchene and says, ‘Okay, we’ve had 50 conversations, but we haven’t really negotiated yet. I need you to tell me if you’re willing to do that Matt Duchene.’

“If the answer is no, then they both go. And there are many around the NHL that see that that’s more likely to be the case, that both guys go.”

Duchene is wrapping up a five-year, $30 million contract, while Stone is on a one-year, $7.35 million pact.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly