Senators’ winger Vladimir Tarasenko keeping his options open

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Vladimir Tarasenko is trying to ignore the noise.

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The Ottawa Senators winger hasn’t heard any of the debates taking place over his future with the team and told reporters Monday his sole focus was on preparing to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

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“I don’t think about it,” Tarasenko said following the club’s skate Monday at the Canadian Tire Centre. “I think about the game tomorrow, I think about things today. If you focus on the past and the future too much, you just lose the present time, lose excitement, and being stressed out every time

“I may think about it sometimes, but mostly try to set it away and prepare for the coming games.”

Tarasenko said it doesn’t make any sense to waste any time or energy worrying about the NHL trade deadline set for March 8 at 3 p.m. ET. Although the Senators are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games after a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, they still are expected to be a seller.

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“I think the biggest part is don’t read the experts online, you know? I don’t go online. I don’t read hockey news,” Tarasenko said. “There’s many people, there’s many opinions.

“I know a lot of guys like to read it and they take it very (personally), but I think you have to be focused on yourself mostly and do whatever you can do in your situation, and the rest will take care of itself.”

An unrestricted free agent with a full no-trade clause (NTC), Tarasenko hasn’t ruled out the possibility of staying with the Senators, but wouldn’t say if he has discussed the situation with Steve Staios, the club’s president of hockey operations and general manager.

“It’s a question you guys will have to ask (Staios),” Tarasenko said. “I like to keep it behind the doors. Like I said, I just have to focus on the next game and get ready for it.”

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Last year, Tarasenko was dealt from the St. Louis Blues to the New York Rangers at the deadline and performed well in the playoffs. He’s going to be an attractive option for a contender looking for help down the stretch and Tarasenko has been linked to the Edmonton Oilers.

After switching agents last July and signing a one-year, $5-million deal with the Senators, he made another move on his representation on the weekend by hiring agent Craig Oster of Newport Sports.

Though Oster now represents seven players in the organization, including captain Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Erik Brannstrom, Tyler Kleven, Lassi Thomson and Jiri Smejkal, Tarasenko likely isn’t making this move so he can work out an extension with the Senators.

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This is Tarasenko’s fourth agent in the past three years.

A league insider told Postmedia last week Tarasenko went this route so that if he’s going to waive his NTC to get moved, then he might be able to get a contract in place before a trade is finalized.

“It’s just a decision I made with my family. I’m not going to say anything bad or good,” Tarasenko said. “We just feel like it’s the best for our family. It’s tough on both sides, the thing has been done and you just have to move on from it.”

Tarasenko hasn’t ruled out signing an extension with the Senators. He has 14 goals and 34 points in 36 games this season.

“When the talks start of course we’re going to look at all options,” Tarasenko said. “Like I said, you guys are trying to find something, and there is nothing. We’re going to focus on the game tomorrow. We had a good game last game and it’s exciting, like you asked before, just enjoy the moment.”

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Tarasenko has fit in well with the group here. He has been good at both ends of the ice and has found good chemistry with Shane Pinto. Tarasenko’s teammates say he has been good to be around and has fit in well.

“I have a good group of guys (here),” Tarasenko said. “I enjoy the guys a lot. They’re very fun. I think it’s a very tight group. I always thought it’s not about the place, it’s more about the people surrounding you.

“And I was fortunate with the Blues and Rangers, there were good people around me. Here, it’s the same thing. A lot of people willing to help. … I’m enjoying it.”

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The Senators are making room for Anton Forsberg to come off the long-term injury reserve list and serve as the backup goaltender for Ottawa’s game against Columbus.

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The club waived rugged winger Zack MacEwen Monday and if he clears Tuesday at 2 p.m. he’ll be sent to the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville to get his $775,000 salary off the books.

Forsberg has missed 11 games because of a right groin injury but the club didn’t take him off the long-term injury list Saturday and dressed Kevin Mandolese as the backup goalie.

Forsberg makes $2.75 million US and the club had only $1.2 million in cap space at 5 p.m. Monday. The Senators also will send Mandolese back to Belleville to get his $775,000 salary off the ledger as well.

On another injury note, defenceman Jake Sanderson went for a short skate Monday but will miss his second straight game because of an undisclosed lower body injury.

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