Dreger: Sens working hard to keep Volchenkov

Darren Dreger

4/25/2010 4:05:09 PM

Anton Volchenkov, Andy Sutton and Matt Cullen are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

The Ottawa Senators would love to keep all three, but sources say that possibility only exists if all three are willing to leave money on the table to stay.

In Volchenkov's case, NHL general managers are waiting for free agency with tongues wagging.

The 28-year old shutdown defenseman is regarded as one of the toughest men in the league. Volchenkov consistently plays a remarkably hard and very clean game - earning just 38 penalty minutes during the regular season.

A shot-blocking machine, Volchenkov has recorded 1023 blocked shots in the regular season since the NHL starting keeping track of the statistic in 2005-2006.  That's 124 more than his closest rival, Brett Clark of Colorado.

In the six first round games Ottawa played versus Pittsburgh, Volchenkov blocked 32 shots, 12 more than Montreal's Hal Gill and Philadelphia's Chris Pronger.

The images of Anton Volchenkov grimacing in pain show he has little regard for his own well being.

Although a left handed shot, he plays the right side, paired with veteran Chris Phillips who also shoots left.  That's noteworthy because it shows Volchenkov's versatility.

Speculation is that Volchenkov will seek as much as $5 million per season on a multi-year deal.  A steep price for a defenseman, whose 4 goals this season equaled a career best.

Sources say Ottawa is working hard to re-sign him, however, based on how hard Volchenkov worked to keep the Sens in the postseason, and the interest he is sure to attract this summer, Senators' fans may have seen the last of the player this organization has spent a decade developing.