Sports Hockey

Sens believe Alfredsson likely to return 0

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
Daniel Alfredsson still hasn't decided if he will play one more season with the Sens, but GM Bryan Murray is optimistic. (Matthew Usherwood/QMI Agency/Files)

Daniel Alfredsson still hasn't decided if he will play one more season with the Sens, but GM Bryan Murray is optimistic. (Matthew Usherwood/QMI Agency/Files)

OTTAWA - 

Just about everybody has a baseless opinion on what Daniel Alfredsson is going to decide regarding his future.

Senators GM Bryan Murray has a feeling -- one that has grown stronger -- based on a chat he had with the man himself.

Getting a wee bit anxious to find out if his 39-year-old captain is going to retire or suit up for a 17th NHL season, Murray called Alfredsson's agent on or around July 1 looking for an indication. He has since been given just that.

"I've had a couple of conversations, one with Alfie about a week ago," Murray revealed to reporters Thursday. "Still no final decision on anything, but very definitely a good conversation, if I can say that. I'm just waiting to find out for sure which way we are going to go."

Murray went on to say he always believed that Alfredsson -- who had a lot of fun while notching 27 goals and 59 points in 75 games last season -- wanted to play a little longer. It sounds like Murray might be willing to place a bet on that hunch after his discussion with Alfredsson, who is spending a few weeks in Sweden with his family.

"We just talked about the team, we talked about what was happening around the team, the additions and subtractions," said Murray. "So that tells me there's some real interest on his part, in knowing what's going on, and I think it's as a player. I don't think it's in the off-ice part of his career at this point in time.

"I'm hoping that's the case, but I'm not going to ask the question. He's going to decide the timing, and what he finally decides. But the impression I got was a good one, put it that way."

If Murray is off with his guess, the Senators lineup would appear to be left with a couple of serious cavities. Already, it's assumed rookie Jakob Silfverberg can slide into the right wing slot with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, but as it is, there is no clear cut candidate to claim the second-line left wing job alongside centre Kyle Turris and Alfredsson.

Guillaume Latendresse and Colin Greening are expected to be among those who apply for the position, but neither is without question marks. Latendresse has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons, while Greening, with just one full NHL campaign under his belt, still has to prove he can be consistent enough for a full-time Top 6 forward role.

Without Alfredsson, the Senators could be in tough to score.

Murray's concern was obvious with his recent pursuit of Rick Nash, a former 40-goal man for the Columbus Blue Jackets who is expected to be dealt over the summer. But Nash, who can veto a trade if it isn't to where he wants to go, doesn't have Ottawa on his list of desirable locations.

Murray said that to his knowledge, that hasn't changed.

"We were told he wouldn't, in all likelihood, report to Ottawa," Murray said Thursday. "We haven't had any further conversations."

Murray shrugged off suggestions that Alfredsson's dilly-dallying is making it difficult for him to put together his team.

"We do have enough bodies now, finally in the organization, young talent, other guys that have had a little bit of time under their belt," he said, referring to the likes of Mika Zibanejad, Matt Stone and Mike Hoffman. "So we'll do fine as far as having numbers.

"But I have to emphasize, if we don't have Alfie there's a big hole."

Murray still doesn't rule out the possibility of acquiring some security in an off-season trade.

"I think it's a daily thing," he said of his quest to improve the team. "We talk to a manager or two usually every day, about possible things to do. But there's nothing really that's happening at this point. We all kick tires a little more often than maybe we should, but it's worthwhile doing. Maybe you strike on to something as the summer goes on."

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @SunDoniB


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