Oilers too slick for Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Now it's on to Plan B for Senators GM John Muckler.

Ottawa didn't even get a shot yesterday at centre Petr Nedved, who was placed on re-entry waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers on New Year's Eve. The Edmonton Oilers, who rank lower in the current NHL standings, snapped him up on the waiver wire.

While sources confirm Ottawa attempted to claim the 35-year-old Nedved, the Senators weren't the only team disappointed to learn he'll join the Oilers for a second tour of duty. Sources say the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs also put in a claim -- though they deny it -- because they badly need help at centre with Michael Peca out, and they wanted to keep Nedved from going to the Senators.

Losing out on Nedved was a tough blow for Ottawa with Jason Spezza (knee), Mike Fisher (knee) and Antoine Vermette (hip) all sidelined indefinitely. Nedved was a low-risk option because the Flyers are picking up half of the $1.2 million remaining on his contract. It's believed Muckler may have called GM Paul Holmgren on the weekend to see if Nedved could be placed on re-entry.

"It's disappointing because he's obviously a guy who could have helped us," said Senators assistant captain Wade Redden. "With the situation we're in right now ... I know things didn't work out for him in Philly, but he's still a good player who has done some things in the past and has some skills."

But Nedved is happy to go back to Edmonton. He played 16 games with the Oilers at the end of 2003-04.

"(Nedved) is looking forward to playing for the Oilers again," said agent J.P. Barry from Calgary. "This is a very good fit for him. Much of the personnel is still the same so this will be an easy transition."

Indications are the decision by the Oilers to pick up Nedved could mean GM Kevin Lowe is getting his ducks in a row to trade a centre, either Shawn Horcoff or Jarrett Stoll, for a puck-moving defenceman.

Ideally, the Oilers would like to move Horcoff for a defenceman, but he'd be a tough sell to the Senators with $3.6 million left on his contract for the next two years. Instead, the more viable option is Stoll at $2.2 million.

It's believed the Oilers have held discussions with the Senators about a blueliner in the past, but that's another area where the club can barely afford to give anybody up because there's not a lot of depth in the organization.

Another option is Phoenix centre Mike Comrie. He is making $3 million, but is an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Coyotes have been looking to move him all season.

There was some good news on the injury front yesterday. Coach Bryan Murray said Spezza is expected to skate for the first time tomorrow, while Fisher could be back on blades by the weekend. Spezza told the Sun he doesn't expect to play until after the NHL all-star break, which is set for Jan. 22-23. Vermette skated for the first time yesterday since getting injured Saturday.

"I didn't go hard, but it felt good. It feels a lot better than it did and we got some good news from the MRI (Monday) because it wasn't as bad as we first thought," said Vermette. "It's a day-to-day situation right now. Hopefully, it comes along pretty quick and makes improvement."


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