Owner: Heatley could stay

Dany Heatley could stay in Ottawa if the Sens can't move the disgruntled forward. (Sun Media/Tony...

Dany Heatley could stay in Ottawa if the Sens can't move the disgruntled forward. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

Eugene Melnyk is holding the door open a crack for Dany Heatley's return.

The Senators owner said the team could have both Heatley -- who has asked for a trade -- and newly signed free agent Alex Kovalev to start next season, even though their combined salaries put the team about $1 million over the salary cap.

The Senators dumped goaltender Alex Auld and his $1-million salary on the Stars for a sixth-round draft pick Wednesday.

"We're not that far off ... I think there's about another million and a half we have to free up. We're fine," Melnyk told CFRA yesterday. "There's a lot of work that would have to be done to have Dany come back, with the fans, with the players, with the dressing room. Is it do-able? I think so.

SEASON-TICKET SPIKE

"We expect him at training camp unless something happens otherwise."

Melnyk said the Kovalev signing, $10 million over two years, has fuelled a spike in ticket sales. Melnyk said he pushed GM Bryan Murray to sign the Russian who was cut loose by the Canadiens.

"The fact that his name came up and he was available, Bryan called. My attitude was, 'Bryan, why are we still talking, you know? Get on the phone.' We've needed an exciting player and he's going to add that for us. We've already had literally thousands of fans calling in, hundreds of season tickets have been sold these last couple of days."


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