Bruins' acquisition of Horton intensifies Spezza speculation

At least we know Jason Spezza won’t be going to the Florida Panthers.

As the trades begin and speculation is everywhere leading up to Friday’s National Hockey League entry draft in Los Angeles, the Panthers shipped power forward Nathan Horton to the Boston Bruins in a package that saw defenceman Dennis Wideman and the Bruins’ 15th overall selection go to Florida.

While there is little surprise that the Panthers traded Horton — he was a goner from Florida the moment new general manager Dale Tallon took over — there had been some suggestions that he could be moved to the Senators for Spezza .

Senators general manager Bryan Murray said on Monday that he’s all ears when it comes to trade possibilities for his first-line centre. He insisted, however, that he won’t make “a bad trade” simply because Spezza said he wouldn’t object to being dealt.

Late Monday night, the internet was abuzz with speculation that Spezza had been dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets or that a deal was imminent. The deal would have apparently seen the Blue Jackets ship centre Derrick Brassard, winger Kristian Huselius and their fourth overall selection to the Senators for Spezza , but there has been no subsequent confirmation by either the Blue Jackets or the Senators.

The idea of Spezza going to Columbus has had some legs since it was first raised two weeks ago, if only because the Blue Jackets need to win soon and star winger Rick Nash has been starving for a top-flight centre ever since he came into the NHL.

The other intriguing speculation with regards to the Senators Tuesday was their possible interest in Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar.

Gonchar , scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, isn’t going to re-sign with the Penguins. Pittsburgh is believed to be entertaining offers to trade his rights now, giving an interested team a week to try to exclusively negotiate a new contract with him. With the Senators resigned to hard-hitting, shot-blocking defenceman Anton Volchenkov testing the free agent market — Ottawa is open to trading his rights, as well — Murray has said his priority is finding a defenceman to replace him. Murray would prefer a mobile defenceman, allowing the team to move the puck out of its end quicker.

Bye-Bye Bingo: Don Nachbaur has resigned as head coach of the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate. “It is a difficult day for me, as I step down,” Nachbaur said in a press release issued by the Senators. “This was not an easy decision for me, but it is based on personal reasons and I think it is the right choice for both myself and my family.”