The Senators haven't closed the door on Mats Sundin. Far from it.
With the former Toronto Maple Leafs captain expected to soon start skating in Los Angeles amid speculation he'll back in the NHL by early next month, the Senators are one of several teams interested in the 37-year-old.
"The only thing I would say is that we remain interested," said Senators GM Bryan Murray.
While Murray wouldn't confirm it, sources say he's held regular discussions with the Sundin camp to make sure he's aware of the genuine, high-level interest in bringing the Swede to Ottawa to help win a Stanley Cup.
Sundin has already sat down with Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis and is expected to have a face-to-face session with Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke this week.
Indications are Sundin's agent, J.P. Barry, is going to be busy helping the unrestricted free agent weigh his options.
The Senators have been chasing the star centre since the summer. Owner Eugene Melnyk met with Sundin during last month's visit to Stockholm to open the season. Sources say Melnyk travelled to Sweden to underscore the club's interest in Sundin.
While the Senators don't have room to sign Sundin under the $56.7-million salary cap, the word is both Melnyk and Murray have indicated to Sundin that they'll make room.
Despite his age, Sundin is coming off one of his best seasons, in which he scored 32 goals and had 78 points (in 74 games) on a bad Leafs team.
He'd be a perfect fit with Daniel Alfredsson, a former linemate on the Swedish national team.
The Senators' problem is they aren't alone in their pursuit of Sundin.
With talk of a December comeback heating up, other teams are starting to line up. Vancouver's two-year, $20-million offer from the summer might not even be the most lucrative Sundin entertains.
"Waiting is just going to drive up the price," a league executive said.
The New York Rangers, Philadelpia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and his old team, the Leafs, are all seriously interested in Sundin.
If the Ducks really want to land Sundin, Burke would have to unload salary. Many believe Anaheim's interest is nothing more than a PR ploy.
The 'Hawks would like to bring in Sundin or free-agent centre Peter Forsberg to play with Martin Havlat.
As for the Leafs, many believed in September it would be doubtful that Sundin would return to a rebuilding situation. But there's renewed hope in Leaf Nation with the young club playing surprisingly competitive hockey.
It's going to be difficult for the Senators to get Sundin, which means Murray will focus on immediate needs. He has been sniffing around for a goaltender and the top priority is to bring in a puck-moving defenceman to replace Wade Redden.
PLACE TO BE FOR OVECHKIN
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who returned to Russia to be with his ailing grandfather last week, will rejoin the Caps today and likely be in the lineup tomorrow against the Senators at Scotiabank Place.