White's out in Ottawa?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Todd White is in limbo.

The Senators centre and Kanata native will find out by the end of the week whether GM John Muckler is going to bring him back next season or if he'll be forced to look for another job in a new era of the NHL.

Though White's lawyer Larry Kelly doesn't believe his client will have a hard time finding a job if the Senators decide not to give him a $1-million US qualifying offer, White's first choice is to stay here.

White, 30, who has been with the club for three seasons, saw his production fall to 29 points in 53 games during the 2003-04 season, but he was hampered by shoulder and ankle injuries.

COMMUNITY WORK

The Senators could decline to give White a qualifying offer and attempt to keep him at a lower price, but if Muckler hasn't given him an answer by now, it's doubtful he'll be back.

That would be a shame considering all the work the classy White has done in the community, but, in the post-lockout NHL, teams are counting their pennies carefully against a salary cap.

"They said they'd get back to me at the end of the week about Todd White," Kelly said from his Ottawa office. "I guess we're going to have to wait to see what happens."

With centres Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette all under the age of 26 and veteran centre Bryan Smolinski signed for two more seasons, White -- who could not be reached for comment yesterday -- would appear to be the odd man out.

Meanwhile, sources say Ottawa will scour the free-agent market for a gritty centre -- possibly Bobby Holik if he's bought out by the Rangers. The Senators are also expected to make a pitch for free- agent winger Gary Roberts.

SMOLINSKI RELIEVED

"What we're going to do first is try to sign our own players. Then, we will see where we are at as far as free agents (go)," Senators GM John Muckler said on Monday.

Two players who are breathing a sigh of relief are Smolinski and defenceman Greg de Vries after Muckler said he won't be buying anyone out of their contracts.

"I know there had been a lot of speculation, but I kind of felt that I would be back in Ottawa this season," Smolinski said from Detroit. "I really want to be part of that team. That's why I signed there for four years in the first place.

"I feel like we've got a good thing going there and I think we've got a shot at winning a Stanley Cup this season. You look at the group of players they've got there and they've grown up together. We all want to have success."


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