Report: Ottawa front-runners for Jonathan Drouin trade

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper responds to the organization’s ongoing “distractions” of trading Jonathan Drouin and signing Steven Stamkos.

There will be no off days for Bryan Murray after swinging a nine-player blockbuster for Dion Phaneuf.

According to two TVA reporters, the Ottawa Senators general manager is now the front-runner to land disgruntled Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin before the NHL trade deadline.

TVA’s Louis Jean reported the news Wednesday night, and colleague Renaud Lavoie asserted he had heard the same thing Thursday morning on The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

“He’s always looking as a GM to find those players who quote-unquote ‘nobody wants anymore,’ ” Lavoie said. “Kyle Turris is a good example.”

LISTEN: Renaud Lavoie talks Jonathan Drouin, Dion Phaneuf, Ben Scrivens

It’s no secret the budget-conscious Senators are taking a run at the post-season, and its cherished gate revenue. Ottawa made a long-term financial commitment in order solidify its defence core in Tuesday’s Phaneuf deal and is now looking to add a forward to the mix, preferably a winger.

“I am going to pursue something else,” Murray told Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday. “I’m not going to take a guy at the end of a contract.

“I’m not interested in getting a guy that’s a UFA at the end of the year.”

Drouin fits the bill.

A native of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que. — just a two-hour drive from Ottawa — Drouin is in the middle of a three-year, $9.675-million entry-level contract that expires July 1, 2017.

Despite Drouin’s refusing to report to the American Hockey League as he awaits a move, Tampa GM Steve Yzerman has been adamant that he is seeking “equal value” for the third-overall pick. Upwards of a dozen clubs have expressed interest, and Yzerman is determined not to get hosed the way the Coyotes did when they dealt a frustrated Turris to Murray.

“From my understanding, it’s costly,” Lavoie said of Yzerman’s asking price, which varies depending on the trade partner. “If they’re asking for a young D like [Ottawa’s Cody] Ceci, I’m not sure they’re not going to say yes to that.”

The developing Ceci, 22, is having a career season for Ottawa and has been partnered with Phaneuf on the Sens’ second pairing. He was Ottawa’s first-round pick in 2012.

That dependable Tampa defenceman Jason Garrison is now expected to miss three to five weeks with a lower-body injury could hasten Yzerman’s need for a defenceman.

Ottawa or not, “I’m sure Yzerman will find someone to pay the price,” Lavoie said.

“I do expect something is going to happen before the trading deadline.”

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