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Top-six forward on Ottawa's radar

Senators NHL Trade Deadline outlook

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Ottawa Senators:

OTTAWA SENATORS

Record: 25-26-6, 56 points; 6th in Atlantic Division, 7th in Eastern Conference Wild Card

Unrestricted free agents: Chris Neil, RW; Chris Phillips, D

Restricted free agents: Mike Hoffman, LW; Alex Chiasson, RW; Shane Prince, LW; Matt Puempel, LW; Cody Ceci, D; Patrick Wiercioch, D; Chris Wideman, D

Projected 2016 draft picks: 6 (1 first)

Projected 2017 draft picks: 6 (1 first)

Needs: Top-six forward, preferably a left wing

Surpluses: Young forwards; prospects

Players Potentially in Play: Neil, Wiercioch, Chiasson

Likely status: Buyer

Skinny: The Senators made the latest big splash heading toward the deadline with the nine-player trade that brought defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that doesn't mean general manager Bryan Murray is finished. He said his priorities have been a top-four defenseman and a top-six forward. With half his goals accomplished, he can move toward finding that forward. The Senators might be a young team - 14 of their regular skaters are 26 or younger, and two regulars are older than 30 - but Murray is trying to walk that line between developing young talent and trying to be a Stanley Cup Playoff team now. The trade for Phaneuf is the latest example; it's one that can help the Senators now by dropping a legitimate top-four defenseman into the mix and pushing some younger and less talented defensemen into more suitable roles. Phaneuf will be 35 when his contract expires in five years, so he should have some productive seasons ahead of him to augment the young core. That will also give time for a prospect like defenseman Thomas Chabot, a first-round pick (No. 18) in the 2015 NHL Draft, to develop. The Senators have a talented core of young players, including two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Hoffman and Ceci. They are all 26 or younger. Phaneuf, 30, Marc Methot, 30, and Bobby Ryan, 28, each is in the prime of his career. If Murray makes another trade, it probably will not be for a rental player; it likely will be for a forward who could help the Senators now and in the future.

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