Sens happy with 9th pick

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Don't expect Senators GM Bryan Murray to make a big splash and move up in Round 1 of the NHL draft.

Unless the club makes a deal involving unhappy winger Dany Heatley, Murray doesn't believe the Senators will select any higher than the No. 9 slot they're already sitting in.

While Murray is being urged by his scouting staff -- including assistant GM Tim Murray, player personnel director Brent Flahr and chief scout Pierre Dorion -- to try to move up, Murray is convinced he will get a strong player at No. 9.

"We'll just take the best player at that spot," said Murray. "We think we know who it is, but we don't have a specific position. I've talked to all of the top teams, pretty much, and at this point in time there's nothing that I can do to get them to move down or allow me to move up.

"We're going to get a good player, without a doubt. Whether he'll play this year or not isn't the point. I know the top three are getting a lot of the ink, and they should, but we think a number of players are going to be very good."

The belief is the Senators are high on London Knights forward Nazem Kadri, along with Swedish defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Both are rated to go in the area where the Senators will select.

"We're going to get a guy that's not quite ready to step in," said Tim Murray. "The difference between the top five and the next five: Down the road, the No. 9 guy can be as good as the No. 3 guy, but he's not as ready-made as the top player.

"The reason we like those top four or five guys is because there's less projection involved. It doesn't matter if you're a great scout or an average scout, the less you have to project, the easier it is. We do project. We just aren't going to get the ready-made player like (Matt Duchene) or (Victor Hedman). We feel confident the two or three guys we have slotted at No. 9, we're going to be able to get one of them."

Talking to Neil

The Senators are moving closer to a deal with RW Chris Neil, but there are no guarantees something will be done before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Murray and Neil's agent, Todd Reynolds, were scheduled to have more discussions yesterday to try to keep the rugged winger in Ottawa next season. "I talked to them over the weekend. I have a planned phone call and I'm just going to see if it makes any difference or not," said Murray. Neil said last night his No. 1 goal is "to stay in Ottawa" and he was waiting for an update to see where discussions stand. He made $1.1 million (all terms US) last year and indications are the Senators have offered a thee-year deal worth $1.7 million per-season. If Neil, who is believed to be seeking a long-term contract, does decide to test the open market, he's going to get plenty of interest -- including a bid from the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I haven't really thought about waiting until July 1. I want to get something done here," said Neil.

Off the glass

Tim Murray said he's no closer to hiring a coach to replace Curtis Hunt in Binghamton. The former Ottawa assistant, who took over the club's AHL affiliate when Cory Clouston was hired to replace Craig Hartsburg in February, told the club last month he wouldn't return. "I've got a lot of applications. Ideally, we'd have a coach by now and I would like to have a coach by the development camp (later this month), but it doesn't look like we're going to have that now," said Murray ... Bryan Murray said he wasn't bothered by comments from Toronto GM Brian Burke dumping on the stance taken by Heatley. "What that tells me is that team doesn't want the player and then you move on," said Murray.


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