Senators in chess match

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

It isn't a question of winning jobs, it's a question of how the Senators are going to go about doing their jobs.

As the club starts a stretch of four games in four days, beginning tonight vs. the Sabres at Scotiabank Place, Senators GM John Muckler said there's lots on the line.

"There are definitely a lot of decisions left to be made and I mean with the whole team," Muckler said yesterday following a workout at the Bell Sensplex.

"We've still got a lot of questions left to be answered. Who is going to play where? Can Denis Hamel make the team? Can (Patrick) Eaves play on the left side of the big line. I really don't think we've decided on anything at this point. That's why we're trying to give everybody a chance to play at this point."

Sure, you could fill out a lineup card right now and be pretty much bang on when the Senators play their final exhibition game against the Canadiens Sept. 30 in Montreal.

But Muckler and Senators coach Bryan Murray are still trying to find out where everybody is going to fit once the regular season opens on Oct. 4 against the Leafs. They are keeping a close eye on the left side of Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, where Eaves has been toiling early in camp.

MCAMMOND A WILD CARD

The club is also watching veteran Dean McAmmond, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. Muckler isn't convinced Murray is going to keep McAmmond on the fourth line with Chris Kelly and Brian McGrattan throughout camp.

"We've got a lot of players who we're trying to figure out where they are going to play and that's what training camp is about," said Muckler. "McAmmond is a veteran and he can also play centre. He could be a good utility guy for us. We've got a number of guys who can play different roles."

The Senators also have to decide if rookie Alexei Kaigorodov has what it takes to be a No. 2 NHL centre. He made his debut against the Leafs in a 3-1 loss Wednesday at Scotiabank Place and looked out of place playing with wingers Peter Schaefer and Daniel Alfredsson.

"He struggled and didn't play very well. There's no question about it, but it's going to take him some time to make the adjustment to playing on the North American ice. I thought that was what he struggled with the most," said Muckler.

TOUGH TO CRACK LINEUP

"It's going to take him a little while to figure all of this out. He's been playing on the big ice all his life and this is a different game. He's got the skills and he's going to adjust. He's just going to need some time to get there."

Still, it's difficult to figure out where there might be an opening on this team. Hamel, centre Josh Hennessy and centre Serge Payer are all battling for spots, but the reality is their reward might be getting picked as the first call-up from Binghamton.

"If I were those players I would just keep working as hard as I can and try to make sure that I get noticed every night because they want to show where they stand in the organization," said Murray.

"Sure, it's okay for veteran players to take a night or two off, but I would think guys like Hamel, Payer and Hennessy have to show us in every game that they belong at this level."


Videos

Photos