LOS ANGELES -- If The Hockey News is right, the Senators had better win a Stanley Cup soon.
THN ranked Ottawa 22nd, with a 'C' average, for its talent aged 21 and under in the annual Future Watch Issue that hits newsstands this week. The Senators were ranked 25th last year.
The grade isn't lost on GM Bryan Murray.
Murray said yesterday that one of his priorities is to get the scouting staff up to snuff order, a process that has been ongoing since he took over from GM John Muckler.
"We haven't got a lot of depth in the organization and we don't have a lot of prospects," said Murray. "That has a lot to do with where (the Senators) picked over the last couple of years and certainly we missed on a couple of picks I felt very strongly about. When I came from Anaheim, I knew what we would have picked at that time, but that wasn't my position. I talked to them, but I couldn't do anything about it. We have to do a better job and we will."
The top prospect in Binghamton is 2005 No. 1 pick Brian Lee, who was taken No. 9 overall, but the Senators passed on defenceman Marc Staal, who went to the Rangers with 12th selection.
That's why assistant GM Tim Murray, director of player personnel Brent Flahr and scout Pierre Dorion were hired. Chief scout Frank Jay was let go following the club's meetings in January.
HAPPY TO SAY
D Rob Blake left the decision as to whether he would be dealt at the NHL trade deadline up to the Kings. The well-respected veteran blueliner wasn't going to hold the Kings hostage if they wanted him to waive his no-movement clause. Blake wanted to stay, but he was willing to let GM Dean Lombardi decide what was best. "I left it in their hands," Blake told the Sun yesterday. "It was up to them. I'm happy it worked out the way it did. Yes, going to a contender with a chance to win the Cup was an exciting possibility, but when I signed here two years ago, it was to help this team to improve and make the playoffs. I just wanted them to do whatever they felt was right. It hasn't quite worked out the way I wanted it to work when I signed here, but there's a lot of young talent here, a lot of young skilled players and we've just got to get some pieces in around them to help them improve." It's believed the Avalanche, Ducks, Sharks and Senators were among a group of team that called Lombardi about Blake. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he fully intends to sign a one-year extension with Los Angeles. Blake said he likes the club's talent level. "The young guys here just have to make the next step," said Blake. "Guys like (Alexander) Frolov, (Anze) Kopitar, (Jack) Johnson and (Mike) Cammalleri, these are the guys who get the minutes and they just need to take it to the next step with the right people around them." Lombardi said he'll discuss Blake's future with him in the off-season. "A lot of that is going to be up to (Blake)," said Lombardi.
OFF THE GLASS
The Senators won't like to hear that D Brian Campbell is speaking positively about his experience in San Jose. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Campbell is a guy the Senators will target to try to replace Wade Redden, who can also become a UFA July 1. The Senators tried to bring Campbell in at the deadline, but Buffalo GM Darcy Regier wasn't going to deal him to a team in the East, especially one that is a hate drival ... Sharks coach Ron Wilson was glad to see C Patrick Marleau score twice against the Senators in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win. Wilson told reporters that Marleau might be feeling a little better now that the trade deadline has passed and he's still with the Sharks. "I think a weight was lifted off his shoulders through the trade deadline," said Wilson. "It's hard not to listen to the rumours, and that's why some of the stuff that gets printed is so negative. Now that that's passed, he's relaxed." ... The Kings are going to have to finish the season without No. 1 G Jason LaBarbera, who had hernia surgery on Wednesday. "On the positive side, he will have a full recovery," said Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford. "It shouldn't affect his training for next year." ... Don't be surprised if the Kings make a pitch for Redden in the summer. The Kings want to improve their blue line in the off-season and might be willing to spend some big bucks on the free-agent market.