Sens feeling a draft?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Sidney Crosby could put on his first NHL jersey in Ottawa this summer.

Had all been right in the NHL's universe, the Rimouski Oceanic phenom would have been called to the stage at noon Saturday at the Corel Centre as the No. 1 selection.

It might still happen.

Senators COO Cyril Leeder confirmed yesterday Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli has written a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman indicating the city is ready to hold the entry draft on short notice this year.

While sources say the NHL would rather hold the draft by telephone once a collective bargaining agreement is finally in place, Bettman has indicated there's still interest in holding some version of the event at the Corel Centre.

According to Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson of IMG Hockey, that could involve bringing the top prospects here for a first round that would be shown on TV in Canada and the U.S.

"I really believe that it would only make sense to bring the top 20 prospects or so to Ottawa to have some kind of draft -- especially with the excitement surrounding a guy like Sidney Crosby," said Brisson yesterday.

"Ottawa was supposed to have this draft and out of respect for the city, the fans there should still get to share in the excitement on draft day. Hockey is going to need a boost and I believe they'd be missing a big marketing opportunity if they didn't hold a draft somewhere and put on a show with (Crosby). Everybody knows the game is going to need positive publicity after what's happened."

Leeder said Senators management -- including owner Eugene Melnyk -- remains interested in bringing the draft to Ottawa.

"We just don't know what's going to happen. I know Bob Chiarelli has written commissioner Bettman and indicated that the city is quite ready to accept a draft and they can accommodate it," said Leeder.

"Who knows? First, there has to be a collective bargaining agreement in place and then once that happens those kinds of decisions can be made. There's going to be a lot to deal with once there is a new CBA and one of the questions is whether teams will want to take five days out of their schedule to come to Ottawa for a draft. That might not be in their plans.

TOO CHAOTIC?

"There could be a lot of free agents and there could be a lot to deal with. It might be too chaotic to hold a draft of this type."

Leeder admitted the draft process could be intriguing.

"Obviously, with Sidney Crosby there's a lot of interest because he's a highly-touted prospect, but there's also many people wondering just how that No. 1 pick is going to be determined," said Leeder. "It would be exciting. That's for sure."


Videos

Photos