Teams are forming off the ice to try to purchase the Ottawa Senators.

League sources told this newspaper Wednesday Michael Andlauer, a Toronto billionaire who owns the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs, has formed a partnership with Oshawa Generals owner Rocco Tullio in attempt to buy the Senators.

Sources say Tullio, the owner of Windsor-based Rock Developments, offered late owner Eugene Melnyk $650 million (all figures U.S.) for the team late last year. He was willing to listen, but didn’t seriously consider it because Melnyk had zero interest in selling the Senators.

But Tullio had the financing in place to make that deal or he wouldn’t have approached Melnyk in the first place. That means he can be a serious player in a bid with Andlauer.

Though Los Angeles-based Sportico magazine based the value of the Senators at $655 million last month, the reality is the club will likely sell for somewhere between $800 million-to-$1 billion when the dust settles and a new owner is in place.

The Pittsburgh Penguins recently sold for $900 million and the Nashville Predators are on the verge of $775 million sale. The value of the Ottawa franchise has been raised because the team has won preferred bidder status to build a new rink at LeBreton Flats.

They may own OHL teams that have a good rivalry, but if they can get the right partnership in place they could help make the Senators successful on and off the ice.

Andlauer owns 20% of the Montreal Canadiens and has attended NHL board of governors’ meetings in an alternate role with majority owner Geoff Molson. The owner of the Andlauer Healthcare Group, which owns transport and logistics companies in Canada, tried to purchase the club several years ago but didn’t have any luck with Melnyk either.