SUN Hockey Pool

No saving Prusek

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

Martin Prusek could be in the market for a new home at noon today.

The Senators informed their backup goaltender yesterday they're not going to give him a qualifying offer. And Prusek will only be asked back to training camp if he accepts a contract that includes a minor-league clause.

Since Prusek would like to remain in Ottawa, he'll have to weigh his options in the next couple of weeks and then decide if he wants to battle Binghamton starter Ray Emery for the No. 2 job behind Dominik Hasek.

"Martin really likes it there and there could be a chance he'll be back with the Senators," said Prusek's agent, Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey.

Senators GM John Muckler attempted to deal both Prusek and centre Todd White during Saturday's entry draft at the Westin Hotel (White was traded to the Minnesota Wild). Muckler didn't want to give Prusek the $788,000 qualifying offer he was due.

There could be interest in Prusek on the free-agent market. The Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, L.A. Kings and Washington Capitals are all looking for goaltending help.

"While Martin is not precluded from resigning with Ottawa, he will now have the opportunity to seek out offers from all other NHL teams and choose the best situation for him," said Walsh.

Losing Prusek and dealing White does give the Senators flexibility with $1.5 million more in cap space. That could be enough to allow the club to sign a gritty left winger, but Muckler maintained Saturday he's not going to be any rush to jump into the free- agent market.

"We want to get our own players signed first," said Muckler.

That means if somebody throws big bucks at Detroit's Darren McCarty, Toronto's Gary Roberts and Boston's Martin Lapointe -- all of whom interest the Senators -- then Ottawa might not bother getting involved in a bidding war. Centre Bobby Holik is also on their radar screen.

"They could use one more guy who competes (hard) on that team," said a league source.

The Senators have enough to worry about with their current roster. Wingers Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat, who both received qualifying offers, have rights to arbitration and could use them.

Centres Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza, and defenceman Anton Volchenkov are also need to be signed. Volchenkov has agreed to a deal in Russia and there's no telling if he'll come back to North America.

It's believed the Senators might be willing to sign Havlat and Hossa to long-term deals, while defencemen Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden are headed for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season if they don't receive new contracts. Muckler would like to keep them, too.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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