Reports from across the league are trickling in.
Peter Forsberg has apparently said thanks but no thanks to Dallas, Nashville, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Calgary.
Unofficially, that would leave Philadelphia , Colorado, Anaheim, Vancouver, Chicago and Ottawa still in the running for the Swedish star's services.
The Flyers and Avalanche, two teams for whom Forsberg has played, are considered the frontrunners.
"Hate to break it to you guys, but he's going to Philly," Jason Spezza said to reporters in his team's dressing room yesterday, combining common sense with a gut feeling. "I'd love to have him here, but I don't think it's going to happen."
Senators GM Bryan Murray isn't about to close his Forsberg file yet, however. As he knows it, the gritty centre will test his troublesome foot some more during a "training camp process" in Sweden this week.
By Saturday or Sunday, if he decides he's healthy enough to play, he'll start narrowing his NHL options.
"We've made our pitch," Murray said while watching the Senators practice. "He asked for an offer, so we made an offer."
Obviously, Murray wasn't about to discuss any of the details. Instead, he spoke of the imminent return of Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson and his desire to see the team again as he knows it.
"(With Heatley and Alfredsson back) everybody will be put back in the right role, back in the right pecking order, and that makes a big difference," said Murray. "It'll allow people to get back to where they should be ... to why our team is good."
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Murray will do something to make it better, with or without Forsberg in tow.
"Maybe Feb. 26," he said, referring to the trade deadline, upon being asked when he'll have a deal to announce. Later, he admitted conversations with a fellow GM that extended through last Sunday and Monday only for Murray to be told, "I'm just not ready to do it yet."
With 19 shopping days to go, Murray says the "price is really high, there's no question, for what people think they can get for players."
Willing to trade guys from the active roster but preferring to deal a prospect, Murray is reluctant to spoil the 2008 NHL draft for Senators fans.
"I'm having a hard time giving up a first-round pick this year with the draft being held in Ottawa," he said. "I don't want to do that."
As for the last word on this day regarding Forsberg, we go back to Spezza.
"Kanata is lovely this time of year."
BACK TO RAY
Coach John Paddock will hand the reins over to Ray Emery, hoping this will be the night a goalie turns in a superb performance that makes it impossible for him to take them from his grip. Not so much married to the "win and you're in" concept as he is for somebody to just win, Paddock said he expects/hopes to "pretty soon" settle on one of Emery or Martin Gerber as his main man for the stretch run and playoffs.
"We said before around the 20-game (to go) mark, although I'd prefer sooner for somebody to just grab hold of it and be successful," said Paddock. "You very seldom cut players or reduce their ice time or not dress them. They do that themselves. You hope you don't really have to make a (goalie) decision, that the numbers are what they are, what's important to goalies ... wins, save percentage, goals-against average ... we need wins badly as a team." Emery has had all three starts vs. the Panthers this season, winning two and losing one. Career-wise, he is 6-2-0-0 with a 3.05 GAA against Florida, while Gerber is 7-1-0-1 with a 1.98 GAA.
SCENE AND HEARD
When Paddock stepped on the ice at 11:19 a.m. for practice yesterday, one media wise guy was quick to notice: "Hey, John Paddock is 19 minutes late and nobody is telling him to beat it," he said ... Paddock only caught the highlights of Florida's 8-0 win over the Leafs on Tuesday. Not much of a last-minute scouting report to get there. "I saw them shoot the puck into the open net about eight times," said Paddock. "I've never seen so many easy goals in my life watching a 30-minute show." ... Alfredsson: "First place is the goal, winning one game and go from there. But we want to be playing the way we want to play going into the stretch. If we do really well in the playoffs, who cares about the regular season? We'd like first in the conference, to have home-ice advantage on our side, and that's going to be our push. At the same time, any team that makes it to the playoffs has a good chance, it's so close these days."