Senators GM can sit back and relax

Senators GM Bryan Murray currently has 22 players signed comfortably under the salary cap coming...

Senators GM Bryan Murray currently has 22 players signed comfortably under the salary cap coming into the 2010-11 season. (SEAN KILPATRICK/QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

Maybe Bryan Murray will sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of his summer.

Or maybe the Senators GM will tinker with his team’s roster a bit more.

The Senators managed to avoid going to battle with centre Peter Regin and defenceman Chris Campoli. Both had filed for arbitration but agreed to deals before their cases could be heard.

With the cap set at $59.4 million for next season, the Senators have approximately $57.5 million committed to 22 players — along with buyouts for former goalie Ray Emery and winger Jonathan Cheechoo.

While there might be a bit of movement before training camp opens Sept. 17 at Scotiabank Place, it would appear the money has been spent and the Senators roster is nearly set for next season.

While they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Senators left their fans with hope following the six-game series.

There was a lot of off-season speculation about the future of centre Jason Spezza, but the Senators aren’t going to have another Dany Heatley situation on their hands, which means there shouldn’t be any powderkegs in camp.

The biggest change this summer has come on defence. Unable to sign veteran Anton Volchenkov, the Senators let him walk away as a free agent on July 1 and signed veteran Sergei Gonchar instead.

Gonchar has been one of the top point-producing blueliners in the past 10 years. The 35-year-old has a Stanley Cup ring from 2009 with the Penguins and is going to help a power play that struggled to be consistent last season. Gonchar was the No. 1 player the Senators targeted.

With Chris Phillips, Filip Kuba, Erik Karlsson, Matt Carkner, Brian Lee and Campoli set to return, it could mean youngsters Jared Cowan and Patrick Wiercioch are given another year to develop. Lee is a candidate to be dealt. If the Senators decide they need more toughness in the back end, there are a couple of available options. Brendan Witt has been bought out by the New York Islanders and Willie Mitchell is available.

There’s a belief the Senators might try to add another top-six forward through free agency.

But for now, the status quo will remain with Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev both returning from knee surgery. Captain Daniel Alfredsson is going to be back after having surgery to repair a sports hernia.

Veteran Jarkko Ruutu is going into his final season before becoming a UFA.

The Senators had plenty of balance through all four lines last season and they’re hopeful they’ll be able to pick up where they left off.

If the Senators add another forward, they’ll either deal Ryan Shannon and his $600,000 salary or he’ll play with the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton on a one-way contract.

Goalies Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott will return. Making $4.8 million and set to become a UFA next summer, this is going to be a make-or-break year for Leclaire, who needs to pick up where he left off last season against the Penguins in the playoffs.

Murray didn’t feel the Senators needed a complete makeover this summer after getting back to the post-season. The club will be aggressive with the puck and the defence is going to be active.


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