Dave Nonis' firing may have opened the door for the Senators to land hotshot free-agent winger Fabian Brunnstrom.
Brunnstrom, an undrafted 23-year-old from Sweden, was expected to sign a contract with the Canucks, but those negotiations ground to a halt last week when Vancouver axed Nonis as GM.
Enter Senators GM Bryan Murray, who talked to J.P. Barry, Brunnstrom's agent, yesterday about what it would take to land the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder.
"I spoke with Bryan Murray and he's going to get back to me with something for (Brunnstrom), which discusses the benefits for him playing in Ottawa," said Barry.
While the Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Canucks (despite last week's setback) are considered the leading contenders to land Brunnstrom, the Senators, Bruins and Stars are also believed to be in the running for the Swede's services.
Barry was expected to give all interested teams until yesterday to make their best pitch for Brunnstrom. Money won't be the deciding factor because Brunnstrom still falls under the rookie salary cap, so he has the chance to make around $2.2 million US with bonuses next season.
Brunnstrom, who had nine goals and 28 assists in 54 games with Farjestads BK Karlstad this season, would like to go to a team that is going to have a spot on the second line for him and that's exactly what the Senators are looking for.
But the Leafs, Wings and Canucks have all been trying to sign Brunnstrom since September. Former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. sent a DVD extolling the virtues of Toronto and discussions are ongoing with the team.
"(Brunnstrom is) considering all his options," said Barry.
Why is there such a bidding war for Brunnstrom?
"He's got size, speed and he protects the puck well," said an NHL executive, who asked not to be named. "He'll probably start as a top-nine guy and he's got a strong chance to play in your top six. He's a good young player and he's (a free agent). You don't have to spend anything on him."
Senators RW Dany Heatley is expected to be invited to join Team Canada for the world championship, which is being held in Halifax and Quebec City from May 2-18. Ottawa C Jason Spezza's chances could be hurt now that Anaheim C Ryan Getzlaf is available to GM Steve Yzerman, who is expected to add only one more centre. Senators D Chris Phillips may also be invited. Yzerman will wait until the first round of the NHL playoffs is over to announce his roster ... Spezza was named to the NHL's competition committee yesterday, along with Brian Campbell (San Jose), Ryan Miller (Buffalo) and Mathieu Schneider (Anaheim). The committee, which includes NHL VP Colin Campbell, former player Eric Lindros, three GMs and Flyers owner Ed Snider, discusses ways to improve the game. The committee will meet June 13 in Toronto.