Sens' Kelly likely to test open market

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Right now, Chris Kelly is gone ... out of the country.

It will be at least another week before the Senators find out whether the centre, who can become be an unrestricted free agent July 1, is agreeable to a return.

While talks between Senators GM Bryan Murray and Kelly's agent, Pat Morris, are ongoing, there's no deal in place and with just a little more than a month until free agency begins, it's looking like the 27-year-old Kelly will test the market.

The talk is the Predators, Blues and Bruins are all in the market for a reasonably priced, penalty-killing centre.

That doesn't mean Kelly has ruled out a return to Ottawa.

"Right now, talks are taking place and we're going to have to wait to see what happens," Morris said yesterday. "Both sides have the same interests here: The Senators want to keep Chris Kelly in Ottawa and he wants to stay there. There's been no resolution to this point."

After making $1.262 million (all terms US) this season, Kelly is in line for a raise to the $2-million range and that's where it's going to be difficult for the Senators to keep him.

The possibility also exists that Kelly might want to test the market to get a longer-term contract.

Kelly isn't the only UFA Ottawa wants to keep.

It's believed Murray has also had discussions with the agents for wingers Cory Stillman ($1.75 million last season) and Shean Donovan ($925,000).

Murray will likely let defencemen Wade Redden and Mike Commodore and centre Randy Robitaille hit the market. No decision has been made on veteran blueliner Luke Richardson.

The Senators plan to use the $6.5 million Redden earned to acquire a puck-moving defenceman.

The Senators also have to decide what they're going to do with forward Antoine Vermette, a potential restricted free agent.

The possibility exists Vermette, who made $1.075 million this season, could be dealt because he is only one year away from unrestricted free agency.

Meanwhile, the Senators re-signed winger Jesse Winchester, 25, of Long Sault, to a two-year contract yesterday.


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