NEWARK, N.J. -- Matt Duchene wouldn't be surprised if his status as a member of the Ottawa Senators went down to the wire with the NHL Trade Deadline set for Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
"Absolutely, that's one thing I'm preparing for," the center said after practice Wednesday. "I'm keeping everything inside, though. I've really enjoyed playing here and I enjoy the boys. I've talked about how tough this decision is, especially midseason."
Duchene said he expects to be in the lineup for the Senators against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV). TSN reported Tuesday that the Senators plan to sit him to avoid risking injury before the deadline.
[RELATED: Buyers, sellers leading up to Trade Deadline | 2018-19 NHL Trade Tracker]
The 28-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He has decided not to sign a contract and the Senators have decided to trade him, according to multiple reports. Pat Brisson, Duchene's agent, recently met with Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion to discuss a new contract.
"I haven't heard anything, so I'm preparing as if I'm playing," Duchene said. "I know what's being said out there but I'm going about my business. From what I'm hearing, it's status quo, nothing has changed so there's no news, honestly. It might seem like that but from my perspective that's what it is. We'll see tomorrow."
Duchene was skating on a line with forward Rudolfs Balcers and defenseman Cody Goloubef. Bobby Ryan was given a maintenance day with an illness.
"Until I'm told otherwise, we'll just go along as we've gone," coach Guy Boucher said. "We're keeping everything the way it is, and I wouldn't read too much into the line combinations because Bobby was not there."
Video: OTT@WPG: Duchene finishes nice passing play for PPG
As for potentially sitting out, Duchene said, "It would be hard to not play (as a healthy scratch). If it happens, there would be good merit and reason for it, but I'd love to be out there with the guys to the end regardless of my decision because like I said, 100 times, I love playing with this group. It would (stink) to watch a game, potentially, but I haven't heard anything. I'm preparing like I'm playing."
Duchene, second on Ottawa with 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists), is one of three top Senators forwards who each can be a UFA after the season (Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel). Stone and Dzingel practiced Wednesday.
Stone, Ottawa's leading scorer with 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists), received a contract offer last week from the Senators but his camp requested more time to think about it, according to the Ottawa Sun. If the 26-year-old right wing decides to stay, he could become the next Senators captain and Ottawa would figure to rebuild around him. If not, he could trade him for assets to use in a rebuild for the Senators (22-32-5), who are last in the NHL.
Dzingel is the Senators' fourth-leading scorer with 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists). The 26-year-old has scored 20 goals for a second straight season, and the hope is he would like to remain a part of a young core that includes forwards Brady Tkachuk and Colin White, and defenseman Thomas Chabot.
"You don't really have a choice so it doesn't really matter to me," Dzingel said. "I'm having fun either way. I just got engaged to be married so it hasn't been bad for me at all. If it happens, you pack your stuff up and move on. It's a business and my fiancee and family know that, so it's pretty much that simple."
The Winnipeg Free Press reported Monday that Dorion met with Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff in Cheveldayoff's suite during the second intermission of an American Hockey League game between Milwaukee and Manitoba at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg on Sunday. The meeting increased speculation about the Jets' interest in Duchene, Dzingel and Stone.