Prusek still a Senator, but not for much longer

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Senators GM John Muckler spent yesterday trying to deal goaltender Martin Prusek and couldn't find any takers.

That could change today.

But that's the only big decision Muckler has left to make before qualifying offers are due at 5 p.m. today. The Montreal Canadiens have shown mild interest in Prusek but if nobody picks him up, then the Senators are going to have to decide if they want to let him leave as an unrestricted free agent.

While Muckler was able to move centre Todd White yesterday, nobody wanted to pick up Prusek's $788,000 (all figures US) contract because it doesn't include a minor-league clause.

AROUND THE BOARDS: The Penguins are going to be aggressive in the free agent market. The word is they are bringing back W Alexei Kovalev as an unrestricted free agent and C Martin Straka has already committed to re-signing with the club ... Coyotes GM Mike Barnett told reporters Wayne Gretzky will decide next week if he's going to go behind the Phoenix bench. It's expected Gretzky is going to take over the coaching duties from Rick Bowness. The former Senators bench boss will remain as an assistant with Rick Tocchet. "We had agreed that we would wait until after the draft and then we'd sit down and discuss Wayne's decision," said Barnett. "What kind of coach would he make? I would rather wait until he makes some kind of decision to make a comment on that. He was such a cerebral player and he was so respected by everybody in the room. I would think he would do a great job behind the bench." ... The Oilers are going to make a pitch for aging C Mark Messier, but want to look around the free-agent market first. Edmonton has interest in Los Angeles C Jason Allison and St. Louis C Pavol Demitra. The Oilers were hoping the Blues might buy out C Doug Weight ... Senators owner Eugene Melnyk jumped on a plane immediately after the first round flew to Saratoga, N.Y. to watch his horse Flower Alley compete in the Jim Dandy. "I'll jump on the plane and in about 30 minutes, I'll be in my seat," said Melnyk.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: The Sabres were desperately trying to move C Miroslav Satan and his $4-million salary during yesterday's draft. Buffalo has no intentions of giving Satan a qualifying offer today, which means he'll get away as an UFA. Muckler likes Satan, but not at that price ... Atlanta GM Don Waddell says he's been given no indication young star Dany Heatley wants to be dealt away ... It would appear Dallas C Mike Modano is going to test the free-agent market. His agents, Brian Lawton and Mike Liut, weren't certain about the Stars' direction as rumours persist owner Tom Hicks has the club up for sale and GM Doug Armstrong's hands are tied. While Modano has been the face of the Stars, it appears he'll move to a team that wouldn't mind packaging him with free agent D Adrian Aucoin. Don't be surprised if the Wild make a pitch for Modano ... NHLPA lawyer Ian Pulver and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly have decided to move the start of free agency from midnight to noon Monday ... Sidney Crosby refused to sign Penguins jerseys yesterday because he told fans he hasn't made the team yet ... The world still is that Colorado that C Peter Forsberg and C Markus Naslund are going to the New York Rangers as package deal.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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