Signing or saga? It's up to Melnyk

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Dany Heatley's future with the Senators could be all but decided today.

When Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray meet with Heatley's agents J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine this morning at Scotiabank Place to discuss a new contract for the star winger, there may be quite a monetary gap to overcome.

While it's believed the Heatley camp is seeking close to $8.5 million (all terms US) per season (slightly less than $8.7 million Sidney Crosby will start making next season with Pittsburgh) on a six-year deal with the Senators, the indication is the club would like to get him under contract at $7 million a season.

If that's the case and neither side is willing to budge, then it's likely Heatley is headed to the unrestricted free-agent market next summer where someone will meet his demands.

Melnyk and Murray would like to keep Heatley in the fold, but they also have to sign centre Jason Spezza and blueliner Wade Redden.

Heatley spent last night meeting with Barry and McAlpine to discuss the stance that will be taken today.

Ultimately, it's up to Melnyk to decide how much he's willing to fork over.

ON THE MEND: While G Ray Emery is officially on the road to recovery, he admits he has a lot of work ahead if he's going to be ready for Ottawa's season opener against the Maple Leafs on Oct. 3 in Toronto. While Emery was smiling after the club's 4-2 victory over the Flyers on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place, he feels he could have used a bit more of a test in his first start. Emery, who only faced nine shots in two periods, will play against the Canadiens on Saturday at home and Sunday in Washington. Then, a decision will be made on whether he'll be tuned up enough for the opener. "It's a start. I definitely felt awkward," said Emery. "The warmup was probably the toughest thing I've done since the (Stanley Cup) final last year. I really haven't done much. I've skated, but everyone has been shooting pucks low or not shooting at my hand. In warmup, I got some quality shots for the first time and that's a big thing for me. I'm trying not to think about it. The game was definitely a stride in the right direction, but I definitely have a ways to go." Emery was beaten by two shots on the glove side, but it's hard to judge his performance based on how few shots he faced. "It might have been all right (to get more shots), but there's potential for a confidence shattering as well," said a smiling Emery. "It was good to not get a baptism by fire and just ease my way in here." Emery said it was decided before the game that he would be replaced by G Martin Gerber after two periods. Emery was planning to skate yesterday with C Mike Fisher (groin) and possibly Redden (back).

ANOTHER OPENING: While there was only one job opening before training camp started earlier this month, the concussion suffered by C Dean McAmmond means he likely won't be ready to start the regular season. That means young Fs Nick Foligno, Alexander Nikulin and Ilja Zubov have a shot at starting the season in Ottawa. "Who knows for sure (about McAmmond) because there's a week left before the season," said Senators coach John Paddock. "We've got a spot open on our roster and these next two games are going to be important for these guys that are vying for it." Paddock said he has been impressed with Nikulin, a Russian, but the language barrier could make it difficult for him to stick in Ottawa at this time. "Nikulin is showing lots. He's a pretty good player. We thought he was a checking centreman and that's not the case," said Paddock. "He's got good skills and he can skate with good wheels. He's in a tough situation because of the language. It's tough for him to understand little things."\


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