Is this a good thing?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- Fresh off being dumped by the New York Islanders, Alexei Yashin wouldn't mind returning to Ottawa.

Senators general manager John Muckler can expect a call from Yashin's agent Mark Gandler after the Islanders bought the centre out of the final four years of his $26.4-million US contract.

While the Islanders will pay Yashin more than $17 million to get his salary off the books, Gandler predicted there will be teams lined up to sign the former New York captain.

"It's a new chapter and we'll be calling Ottawa for sure," Gandler told Sun Media.

"That's not even a question. He had great stats last year. There won't even be a moment of hesitation involved if the Senators want to bring him back. He'd love to return to Ottawa, in fact."

Signed to a 10-year, $87.5-million contract by the Islanders in 2001, Yashin, 33, didn't live up to the expectations. He was dealt to the Isles by former Senators GM Marshall Johnston in June, 2001 for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and a No. 1 draft choice, which turned out to be Jason Spezza.

It's believed one of the reasons the Islanders made the move is because they want to free up the money to sign unrestricted free-agent winger Ryan Smyth, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline, and the club also would like to keep pesky winger Jason Blake.

Yashin, who has a home on Long Island and maintains a residence in Ottawa, isn't speaking publicly.

Gandler said contract talks can begin immediately, but Yashin can't be signed until July 1.

"The Islanders have treated me with the utmost respect," Yashin said in a statement. "I've always believed in the vision (owner) Charles Wang has for the organization and, although, I won't be part of it, I believe that the team is headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to this new chapter."

Sources suggest as many as 10 teams, including the St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers, will make a pitch for Yashin.

With the buyout, Yashin likely won't be looking for a huge contract.

A former Senators captain, Yashin was followed by his share of controversy off the ice -- including several contract disputes with former owner Rod Bryden and GM Randy Sexton.

Yashin, who had 18 goals and 32 assists for 50 points in 58 games with the Isles last season, is going to put the past behind him.

HUNGRY

"He's healthy," Gandler said. "He's hungry and he's got a lot to prove."

But a return to Ottawa where he is booed every time he touches the puck?

Gandler believes the fans would forgive him.

"In spite of all the booing, it would be a great place for Alexei," Gandler said.

"Look, booing is happening everywhere now. It's not just directed towards Alexei Yashin. It happens with every athlete. This is not just an isolated incident.

"All those things that took place in Ottawa were a long time ago.

"Fans all around the NHL know what kind of impact this player can make."

Yashin has not yet given Gandler any instructions on where he would like to play.

But don't rule out the Los Angeles Kings either. GM Dean Lombardi has long been a big fan of Yashin.

"There are no geographic plans at this point," Gandler said.

"Ottawa, of course, would be nostalgic in a lot of ways. It would put a little seasoning on the season, so to speak."


Videos

Photos