With a leg dangling over each side of the fence, Bryan Murray claimed yesterday he is prepared to do both some buying and some selling.
But he also adamantly insisted he's not about to put a stick of dynamite to the Senators roster.
"I read and hear the comments being made 'blow up the team' or 'start over' or 'lose all the games so you can get the first pick'. I don't think that does any of us any good at this point," the Senators GM told an Ottawa media scrum yesterday. "Maybe four years down the road it may make a difference, but this year and next, I don't think you people would be very happy writing and talking on a daily basis that we've gone into the tank or whatever.
"We are not going to do that. We are going to try and play every game as a meaningful game. We may have to give a few younger players from our farm team a chance to play some games for us, which could well be the case in a couple of individual cases anyway. But I want to see us play. I want to see if some of the players are what we think they are."
By that, he means good. Or at least better than they've shown through the first 44 games of the schedule.
This morning, the Senators are tied for second-last place in both the Eastern Conference and the NHL's overall standings. Yet because of a recent surge, their playoff hopes have a pulse.
Will that still be the case come the March 4 trade deadline? Who knows.
"I'm hoping that we can just carry that forward and give ourselves a chance, and win as many games as possible," Murray said of the team's current four-game point streak (7-of-8). "I'm not going to say much more than that."
Three players in the Senators' dressing room are eligible to test the unrestricted free-agent market July 1 -- Chris Neil, Filip Kuba and Dean McAmmond. Whether Neil, Kuba and McAmmond will be affordable and fit into the team's future plans has yet to be completely decided.
"Very definitely I'm looking all the time at what might be available if I trade one of unrestricted guys (before the deadline)," Murray said. "I hope we have a fair chance to make a good evaluation at that time.
"Whether we are in the race or not, if there is a right deal for an older unrestricted free agent this summer, then I'm open to talk."
One other piece of Senators property that won't be back is goalie Martin Gerber, who in the last few weeks has had a conditioning stint in Binghamton and slipped through NHL waivers unwanted. Murray said a move will be made with Gerber today.
"There is one team that has expressed some interest," Murray said. "I told (Gerber) that by (today) we will either have some arrangement made for him or we will assign him to Binghamton.
"I'm going to talk to the team again (today). They are kind of just mulling their options as they want the possibility of exchanging someone that's of equal dollars. At the moment that doesn't make sense to me."
The Senators' two elder statesmen spent their all-star breaks relaxing in completely different ways. Daniel Alfredsson, 36, went to Mont-Tremblant with his family. There, he got together with three or four of the other vacationing Senators and their significant others for a nice night out. Alfredsson also confessed to do some skiing. Is that allowed under CBA guidelines? "I don't know," he shrugged. Alfredsson did keep it toned down -- his partner on the hills was five-year-old son Hugo. McAmmond, 35, flew his wife and four kids to the Mall of America in Minnesota, for some roller-coaster riding and shopping. Was that relaxing? "Not at all," deadpanned McAmmond ... Dany Heatley said he had a lot of fun at the all-star game, where he was reunited with former Thrashers teammate Marc Savard and the two played on a line with Alex Ovechkin. "Most of the game was a little slower," said Heatley, "but the last five minutes and overtime, it really picked up. Nobody wanted to lose." ... W Chris Neil will return tonight after missing the last game with the flu.