Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion cooled rumours surrounding the team, stating that veteran forward Derek Stepan has not demanded a trade to a U.S. club.
Rumours have flown that the 30-year old would prefer to play closer to his family after his wife recently gave birth to the couple's third child. According to Dorion, the team has received no such trade request.
“No, he hasn’t indicated anything along that line to us," said Dorion in an interview with TSN 1200 Ottawa. "I think it’s only human. When you’ve only seen your newborn for a day or two, that can be difficult on any type of human being. But at the same time, he’s a total pro and he’s doing his best about it.”
Young forwards Tim Stützle, Colin White, and Josh Norris have emerged for the Senators, pushing Stepan further down the depth chart. Despite registering a season-low 11:41 TOI in Tuesday's loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Dorion reiterates that Stepan still plays a big role on the team.
“Derek Stepan is a member of the Ottawa Senators." said Dorion. "He’s given us great minutes. He’s proven to be a great leader. Some mistakes were made by young players and a guy like Derek Stepan can tell these younger guys ‘just forget it’, ‘be better’. It’s almost like having an extra coach out there."
Dorion understands that the club's future rests in the hands of the young skaters but stressed that a balanced lineup will be the key to future success for the rebuilding Senators.
“We don’t want to put a bunch of young players in the NHL not having earned [it] and then we lose for the next 10 years," said Dorion. "There has to be a really good balance between putting your young players in situations where they can succeed and at the same time having veterans and leaders around them that can help them through the good and the bad."