Sens on Campbell's list

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:48 PM ET

Brian Campbell will set off some fireworks in Ottawa on Canada Day.

Campbell will be in town tomorrow at agent Larry Kelly's Slater St. law office for the onslaught of free agency at 12:01 p.m., and whether he stays in the capital as a member of the Senators remains to be seen, he will be one rich defenceman once he agrees to a contract.

The 28-year-old Sharks blueliner and former 67's star will be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market.

Sources say the Senators believe they have a good shot at landing Campbell and he will be their No. 1 target tomorrow.

There's talk Campbell would like to return from San Jose to the Eastern Conference -- and Ottawa would be on his list.

"That's definitely a team I'd consider," said Campbell, enjoying the holiday weekend at his home near Strathroy. "You hear a lot of rumours and speculation about (the Senators) being interested. I know that city as well as I know Buffalo and probably better than San Jose."

Though the Senators want Campbell to replace the departing Wade Redden, they won't be alone in their pursuit of the highly skilled blueliner.

That's partially why Campbell has decided to come to Ottawa with his family to make a decision.

The indications are the Rangers, Thrashers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Bruins and Blackhawks are all going to make a pitch. And the Sharks can't be ruled out because Campbell feels a certain amount of loyalty toward them.

A league source said Atlanta GM Don Waddell is so determined to bring Campbell into the fold that the Thrashers might be willing to table a five-year, $42-million US deal (that's $8.4 million a season).

No wonder Campbell wants to be with his agent.

"I just felt it would be easier, given everything I have to consider, to just be there with my family and with (Kelly)," said Campbell. "I remember last year, Danny Briere decided to fly to Los Angeles to be with his agent (Pat Brisson) and I just thought it made sense.

"(Kelly) was either going to come to us (in Strathroy) or we were going to be with him. So we're going to make the trip to Ottawa."

While most players enjoy their foray into unrestricted free agency, Campbell has found the experience unnerving.

Campbell, who has been hearing about his status as an impending UFA since he showed up for training camp in Buffalo last September, went through a fruitless contract negotiation with Buffalo and then was dealt to the Sharks at the NHL trade deadline.

"It's not a lot of fun for me. I'm used to being a guy who knows where he has to be on Sept. 19 when training camp opens," said Campbell. "When you're sitting there wondering who you're going to be doing it for, that's not really something I enjoy. I have thought about it a lot.

"I'm not the kind of person who likes to let anybody down. I know that there are people out there who have done a lot for me -- including (people in) Buffalo and San Jose -- and I don't want those people to be disappointed in me. I just want to do what's right for me and what's right for my family. I've flip-flopped a lot about what I should do in the last little while."

Campbell hopes his situation will be settled tomorrow and there's no reason to believe it won't be.

"I'm looking forward to finding out where I'm going to be next year and then getting ready to go," said Campbell. "I'm going to do what's best for me and my family. I want the opportunity to have a chance to win."


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