Is Melnyk willing to pay the price?

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

It's one thing for Eugene Melnyk to join the Dany Heatley contract talks.

It's quite another to pay the asking price.

While NHL observers view the decision by the Senators owner and GM Bryan Murray to hold a face-to-face with Heatley's agents, J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine, tomorrow at Scotiabank Place as a positive step, Melnyk is going to have to open up his chequebook to make it work.

"I wanted (Melnyk) to be involved in the process so that he could understand and (Heatley) can understand what we face here as far as keeping this team together," Murray said yesterday.

"I want (Melnyk) to understand what their requests are and where we want to go with this.

"I think this is positive. (Melnyk) is very committed to keeping a good team here. The fact that he was willing to do this, come in and sit and listen and participate, I believe is a really big step."

Though the Senators want to keep Heatley, who has had back-to-back 50-goal seasons, in the fold, Murray hinted the winger might not get his asking price -- believed to be $8.5 million (all terms US) a year -- and Barry and McAlpine have to be willing to negotiate to make it work.

The cap is expected to jump from $50.3 million this season to between $52 million and $53 million next year. The Senators only have $25 million committed next season, but defenceman Wade Redden and centre Jason Spezza will also be without contracts next summer.

"It's going to be difficult. You can't keep all your players. I think we all know that," said Murray. "You try to keep a core. The players in turn have to realize that if they play in a good situation, sometimes you have to pay a little bit of price for that to happen. I mean you have to sacrifice for the good of the team. If people are willing to do that at this point or not, I don't know."

Heatley said he remains hopeful a deal will be completed before the puck is dropped in the season opener Oct. 3.

"I've really enjoyed my two years here and I'd love to come back here," said Heatley. "We continue to talk and we'll see what happens. From what I've heard, (Melnyk) is pretty much involved with a lot of the deals. He's a hands-on owner and I think that's a good thing."

OUT THE DOOR: The Senators made six cuts yesterday, trimming their training camp roster to 29 players. Fs Cody Bass, Danny Bois, Matt Kinch and Justin Mapletoft, along with Gs Brian Elliott and Jeff Glass were sent to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Rookies Nick Foligno, Alexander Nikulin, Brian Lee and Ilja Zubov are still in camp and they're going to have one last shot to make the big club. "The odds probably don't favour them, but strange things happen," said coach John Paddock. "What if (Mike Fisher) doesn't come back (from his groin injury right away)? That's why it's still an evaluation and that's why it's an important time for them. We wanted to narrow it down, so it's a little more specific. We have to have the best read possible."

OFF THE GLASS: D Wade Redden (back) didn't suit up last night the Flyers and was replaced by D Lawrence Nycholat. "It still hasn't settled down completely and I want to get (my back) feeling good before pushing it too hard," said Redden. "I don't consider this serious. I have had a little back pain in the past. It's just something that it will take a few days to settle down." ... Fisher (groin) wasn't on the ice yesterday, but is hopeful he'll be able to suit up for one of the club's final pre-season games on the weekend. "He's always taking care of his body and he knows when (he'll be) ready to play," said Paddock. Fisher saw a doctor in Toronto on Monday, who told Fisher that his groin is improving.


Videos

Photos