The addition of Randy Robitaille to the Senators lineup would have its ramifications, for sure, but it would not signify the end of GM Bryan Murray's search for a Top 6 forward.
After starting the season in Russia, Robitaille, an Ottawa native, will officially be fitted with Senators' red and join his ninth NHL team at noon today if he clears waivers. Murray sees the 32-year-old centre/winger as someone who can line up anywhere from the second line to the fourth -- but by no means is he the final piece to the puzzle.
"He's a veteran hockey player, a local guy, and we know that he can play in this league and provide depth," Murray said after Robitaille's first practice with the Senators. "He was interested and it's a decent contract for us to handle. The cost isn't such that it eliminates other possibilities."
Another could be former 67's captain Zenon Konopka, who is ready to start the season after recovering from a hand injury. There's speculation the Columbus Blue Jackets could put the 26-year-old centre on waivers this week with the intent of sending him to Syracuse, and if so, it's expected Ottawa would have some interest.
When he was GM in Anaheim, Murray signed Konopka, who in 29 NHL games since has four goals, three assists and 68 penalty minutes. Konopka is loaded with character, he's gritty and tough and a strong face off man, but obviously, he'd be part of the support cast rather than a star, too.
As for acquiring another big point-producer, Murray said yesterday that -- despite the strong play of Martin Gerber and return of Ray Emery -- all is quiet on the trade talk front.
"I don't think there's (an available) goalie around that is the calibre of either one," said Murray. "But nobody has even asked ... I've not had one phone call about either one."
In the meantime, they'll have some internal movement to make if they wind up with Robitaille, and once Dean McAmmond returns in what should be a week or so.
Murray said his preference is to carry 21 players, which is what the Senators are at without Robitaille. Adding him, and getting McAmmond back, means two forwards would be bumped from the current four-line rotation. Moving Christoph Schubert back to defence would be an obvious option, with the reassignment of rookie Nick Foligno to Binghamton being another.
Robitaille had three goals and six assists in 14 games as a teammate of Alexei Yashin's with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Russian Super League. But with wife Joanne expecting their third child in January, he decided it'd be easier on the family for them to come home.
"We had two young ones (Hunter and Cole) over there with us ... any other year, it probably would have been okay, but there was lots on our plate this year," said Robitaille, whose best NHL season was 2005-06, when he had 12 goals and 28 assists for 40 points in 67 games with the Minnesota Wild. "The hockey was fine. They really took care of us over there. But it's a different world, different medicine for the kids ... it's not something we're used to, so that's why I made the decision."
And now he's waiting for fate to decide his future.
"Waivers has a lot to do with timing, and if other teams have injuries," said Robitaille, whose agent also contacted a couple of other presumably nearby NHL clubs. "I'm not too sure what other teams needs are right now, so we'll cross our fingers and hopefully by (today at noon) it'll be good news. Obviously, (Ottawa is) a great team. I'm just looking to chip in any way I can, adding some depth, adding some energy ... I'll do whatever I can."