Senators going deep

Bryan Murray thinks the Senators will be more competitive this season. SUN MEDIA/Errol McGihon

Bryan Murray thinks the Senators will be more competitive this season. SUN MEDIA/Errol McGihon

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Whether they're better, well, that remains to be determined over the next seven months. But it's already apparent it will be harder to crack the Senators roster this season.

After watching the opening of his team's rookie camp at the Sensplex yesterday, an upbeat Bryan Murray acknowledged that management has some tough decisions to make before the season opener Oct. 4 in Stockholm. So tough, in fact, that he may have to make a trade or two to open up spots.

"At the end of camp, we want to determine on merit at that particular time," Murray said of the personnel. "If we have to move somebody as the result of a young guy making our team, that's just the way it is."

"We're deeper," he added, when asked if the Senators had improved since being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of last spring's playoffs. "We've given up a little bit of skill, but we should be more competitive."

Consider the forward positions. When the main camp opens next week, rookie Jesse Winchester is expected to join Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher on the two lines at the top of the depth chart. Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Kelly and Chris Neil would figure to be the third combination. The fourth line might very well consist of Christoph Schubert, Dean McAmmond and Shean Donovan. That leaves 21-year-olds Nick Foligno and Cody Bass -- who were two of Ottawa's better forwards against the Penguins -- plus NHL veterans Ryan Shannon and Brad Isbister, who both played for Vancouver last season. Of the two newcomers, it should be particularly difficult to keep the speedy Shannon off the roster.

"We have 13 (forwards) in my mind right now that could start and play in the NHL ... we might have 15 guys that can play in the NHL," said Murray. "We had to make a change. We'll have some character people in our room. Hopefully we'll have a different type of team. It'll be more of a harder team to play against. Hard, competitive people.

"There will be new and different people," added Murray, counting nine or 10 changes he expects in total.

CHASING SUNDIN

Murray said making a big trade is a definite possibility if he needs the funds to pay free agent Mats Sundin. "I might do that. It just depends on if he decides he wants to come to Ottawa," said Murray, who has expressed his interest in the former Leafs captain to Sundin's agent, J. P. Barry. "I have inquired on a regular basis about him," said Murray. "My inquiry simply is, is he going to play? If he's going to play, keep us in mind. That's all. If in fact he decides to play, we have to be an attractive team." Of the $10-million salary apparently being offered Sundin by Vancouver and Montreal, Murray said: "I don't think we'll pay that, and I don't think he'll demand that." ... Russian C Ilya Zubov, 21, spent the summer in Ottawa. Murray thinks it did him a world of good, adding it looks like the Zubov lost "about 15 pounds. Said Zubov: "I was a little more weight than I needed. Everything is good now. I worked here every day. The guys helped me a lot. I worked with Chris Neil, the guy I think most works hard on the team. He helps me a lot."


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