Taking a trip to the market

Ottawa Senators' General Manager John Muckler. (SUN/Tony Caldwell)

Ottawa Senators' General Manager John Muckler. (SUN/Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Senators GM John Muckler has had little time for rest in the past few weeks.

Since the Senators were eliminated from the NHL playoffs in the second round by the Buffalo Sabres, Muckler has been hard at work preparing for next season.

Muckler met with Senators president Roy Mlakar and owner Eugene Melnyk recently to discuss how they're going to bring this Ottawa a Stanley Cup.

Since that discussion, Muckler has been huddled in meetings getting ready for the upcoming NHL draft.

Muckler will not only have a say in who Ottawa selects for the future, but he'll also be using the June 24 draft in Vancouver to try to make trades to help the team immediately.

July 1, however, might be the date Ottawa hockey fans want to circle on their calendar. That's when some players -- including Senators defencemen Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden -- will become unrestricted free agents.

Here's a look at what may be available to the Senators during the off-season:

By Trade:

G EVGENI NABOKOV:

If the Senators decided not to re-sign G Dominik Hasek, and that's a very big 'if,' then the San Jose netminder will likely be dealt at the draft. Nabokov, who lost his starting job to Vesa Toskala, might be a good option for Ottawa. He makes $3.3 million (all terms US) and would likely cost the Senators more than Hasek would. This would be a risky move.

G J.S. GIGUERE:

Giguere, who played for Senators coach Bryan Murray for a season when Murray was Anaheim's bench boss in 2001-02, could be a good option. The netminder's expensive at $3.9 million and could be expendable should the Ducks decide to re-sign Ilya Bryzgalov, who got the bulk of the action in the playoffs. Sources say Giguere is interested in coming to the Senators if he's going to be dealt. Ottawa would need convincing he's the answer.

F ERIK COLE:

The Senators almost dealt RW Martin Havlat to Carolina last summer for Cole. The Hurricanes have gone on a tremendous run in the playoffs without Cole, so maybe they'll decide they can live without Cole and make this deal.

On The Market:

Okay, the first priority is to find a way to keep Redden and Chara, but that might prove to be impossible. Here's a look at some of the options that Muckler might have on the lucrative free-agent market, taking into consideration the team already has $17 million committed in contracts for next year.

Goalies:

DWAYNE ROLOSON:

Has led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup final and is going to command big bucks. Would work well with Ray Emery. There's one problem: There is going to be plenty of competition ... including a pitch from the Leafs.

CRISTOBAL HUET

Played well for the Canadiens down the stretch -- so well, in fact, that the team felt comfortable getting rid of Jose Theodore. He's expected to stay with the Habs, but there'd be nothing to heat up a rivalry like stealing a guy from down the street.

MANNY LEGACE

Led the Detroit Red Wings to 124 points last season, but didn't get the job done in the playoffs. Has been suggested he'll only be brought back to Motown as a backup. Could be a good No. 1, but the Senators would have only mild interest in him.

FORGET:

Carolina's Martin Gerber. He's been losing the battle for playing time with Cam Ward and is likely not a good option for the Senators.

Defencemen:

ROB BLAKE:

If the Senators want a player with Stanley Cup experience, they can buy one. Blake's got a ring from the Avalanche and would bring the kind of leadership the club needs. One problem: He's expected to either stay in Colorado -- as long Joe Sakic doesn't leave -- or return to the Los Angeles Kings. Blake will be at the top of most teams' lists.

ED JOVANOVSKI:

Murray was with the Panthers when they drafted Jovanovski first overall in 1994. The soon-to-be 30-year-old would bring a hard-hitting style to the Senators. There's no question that Jovanovski would come cheaper than Chara, but he will be looking for a long-term contract. Has been a strong, consistent performer for the Canucks the last few seasons.

RUSLAN SALEI:

There will be plenty of teams chasing this guy. If the Senators can't keep Redden, they're going to need somebody who can move the puck. He's not going to rack up a ton of points, but you also won't notice him because he's getting the job done.

FORGET:

Buffalo D Jay McKee. His price has gone up big time with the performance he turned in during the playoffs.

Forwards:

MICHAEL PECA:

The Oilers centre has proved his worth in the playoffs and has helped lead the club to the Stanley Cup final. He has a long relationship with Senators GM John Muckler from their days in Buffalo and Ottawa has had interest in him in the past. Peca, a former 67's star, is regarded by many as a strong Eastern Conference player and it might be nice for him to return to the city where he played part of his junior hockey. Adding Peca would certainly take some of the pressure off of Jason Spezza.

ALYN MCCAULEY:

The Senators failed in their attempts to get the former 67's star from San Jose at the trade deadline and opted for Tyler Arnason from Chicago instead. The Sharks didn't trade McCauley because they thought they could sign him. The Senators still view him as a good fit and if the club can't get Peca, then McCauley would be just as capable.

JOE SAKIC:

You can dream can't you? Sources say if Sakic doesn't stay with the Avalanche, the only other location he'll consider is Anaheim. It's hard to believe that Sakic wouldn't finish his career in a Colorado uniform. His future could be tied to Blake. The two have enjoyed playing together and want a chance to win another Cup.

FORGET:

Teemu Selanne. He fits the mould of the Ducks and won't go anywhere.

FREE-AGENT GOALIES:

Dominik Hasek

Martin Gerber

Dwayne Roloson

Manny Legace

Ilya Bryzgalov

Cristobal Huet

John Grahame

FREE-AGENT DEFENCEMEN:

NHL BLUELINERS

Ruslan Salei

Hal Gill

Andrew Hutchinson

Jay McKee

Brendan Witt

Nicklas Lidstrom

Filip Kuba

Willie Mitchell

Danny Markov

Zdeno Chara

Wade Redden

Kim Johnsson

Denis Gauthier

Dick Tarnstrom

Jim Fahey

Pavel Kubina

Brian Pothier

Ed Jovanovski

AHL BLUELINERS

Kevin Dallman

Doug Janik

Travis Roche

David Koci

Joe Rullier

FREE-AGENT CENTRES:

Marc Savard

Marty Reasoner

Mike Zigomanis

Jason Arnott

Jan Hrdina

Michael Peca

Jeremy Roenick

Manny Malhotra

Marc Chouinard

Alyn McCauley

Jason Allison

Jeff Halpern

Eric Lindros

Steve Rucchin

Joe Sakic

Stephane Yelle

FREE-AGENT WINGERS:

Sergei Samsonov

Brad Isbister

Martin Straka

Simon Gamache

Jeff Friesen

Mike Leclerc

Matt Murley

Jarkko Ruutu

Nicklas Sundstrom

Viktor Kozlov

Patrik Elias

Brendan Shanahan

Martin Rucinsky

Boyd Devereaux

Petr Sykora

Peter Bondra

Shean Donovan

Radek Dvorak

Georges Laraque

Jamie Langenbrunner

Mark Parrish

Teemu Selanne

Dan Hinote

Anson Carter

Richard Park

Mark Mowers

Mike Grier

bruce.garrioch @ott.sunpub.com


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