Jim O'Brien still can't shoulder the load.
The Senators' top draft pick in June won't be able to play in the team's four-day rookie tournament that gets under way today in Kitchener as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
O'Brien, 18, a centre who was chosen No. 29 overall by the Senators last June, isn't fully recovered from the surgery he had in April and doesn't expect to get clearance to play with the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds until next month.
"It's feeling better everyday. It's one of those things you just have to keep working towards, but time is the biggest thing," said O'Brien following a skate at the Bell Sensplex. "I've been skating for the last couple of weeks and I just haven't been able to take any contact.
"I've spoken with the doctors and the trainers here and they've just told me they're going to ease me back into things. They've just told me to hold off on the games. I'd obviously like to be able to get back in the lineup sooner rather than later."
O'Brien suffered the injury as a freshman with the University of Minnesota last January, but delayed surgery until the end of the year.
O'Brien opted to leave Minnesota after just one season because he felt he would develop more in the WHL.
Yes, the Senators would like to see him participating in the tournament with the Panthers, Maple Leafs and Penguins, but club officials want him to get healthy so he's able to develop as a player properly.
"I want to play him in junior hockey, get a lot of experience, get a lot of travel, have a lot of hardships and have a lot of ice time. We just want him to grow up and be a real competitive player for us," said Murray.
Murray said as many as 12 players -- who will suit up today at 2 p.m. against the Florida freshmen -- in rookie camp could attend the club's main training camp next week.