Sens' scouts hone in on potential draft picks

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 PM ET

NEW YORK — In the battle for the bottom, the Senators have apparently conceded defeat.

With the race for last place pretty much over now that the Oilers have settled nicely into the NHL’s basement, Senators assistant GM Tim Murray told the Sun he isn’t concerned about where the club finishes in the standings.

Murray said he’s confident that no matter where the Senators end up, the club is going to get a good draft pick. Murray along with top scout Pierre Dorion have been honing in on who they feel are the top four players available in the draft.

“The only thing about getting the No. 1 pick is it allows you to manipulate the draft,” said Murray. “It allows you to have some different options of what you may want to do with that first pick.

“I don’t think we’re going to drop out of the top four. The higher you’re picking, you get a chance at picking the player you think is the best or moving down. The lower you are, that option (of moving down) is probably out the window.”

If the Oilers get the No. 1 pick, they’re expected to select Swedish D Adam Larsson. The Senators like three or four forwards, including Kitchener’s Gabriel Landeskog and Red Deer’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

That doesn’t mean if Larsson is available the Senators won’t take him. The Senators already have a wealth of young blueliners in their system in Erik Karlsson, David Rundblad, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch, but Murray won’t stray from his draft strategy.

“The best player. If we’ve got him No. 1 on our list, and we haven’t done our final list yet so it’s premature to say, then we’re going to go by our list and take the best player available. (Larsson)’s a helluva player. There’s all kinds of options when you pick a defenceman,” said Murray.

“We’ll get a good player in the top four. If we’re fourth, we might get the same player there that we’d get at No. 2 because I don’t know what the other teams are doing or what they like. I know what we like: We like four or five guys a lot and we’re going to get one of them.”

Don’t forget the Senators are also going to get Nashville’s No. 1 pick from the Mike Fisher deal. That’s why Murray spent last week watching five possible first-round picks.

OFF THE GLASS

Karlsson and Milan Michalek had a brush with one of their heroes Wednesday in Manhattan. The Senators duo were out on a shopping trip after the club’s practice at Chelsea Piers and ran into soccer star Lionel Messi. Messi, 24, is in town with the Argentina national team in a friendly match against Team USA Saturday at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Since Messi doesn’t speak English, Karlsson asked one of his handlers if Messi could pose for a photo with Karlsson and Michalek, who are huge soccer fans. Michalek told the club’s website earlier this year that if he could have dinner with any three people in history, Diego Maradona and Messi would be two of his three choices. It’s too bad Daniel Alfredsson wasn’t with them — he’s also a huge fan of Messi ... The officials were delayed getting into their dressing room before the game. That’s because former NFL QB Boomer Esiason, who is co-host of the morning show on New York’s WFAN, was using the room after being on the ice for a charity appearance. Boomer looked good on skates ... Alfredsson could be back in the Senators lineup by next week, but won’t play for Sweden at the world championship.

PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1

They love to hate Denis Potvin at Madison Square Garden.

“Man, we’ve said your name many a time, mate,” one of the workers told the Sportsnet analyst/former Islanders great as he stood by the ice Thursday.

Of course, it only took until 6:26 of the first for the “Potvin sucks” chant to go up in the Garden.

“If you say anything derogatory about anybody, they’ll throw you out,” said the worker.

“That hasn’t stopped the chant, though.”

C'EST WHAT?

“It means everything to me. They made a lot of sacrifices for me so I could play hockey, including the 5 a.m. drives to the rink.” — Sens D Patrick Wiercioch on his parents Andrew and Ewa being in attendance for Thursday night’s game.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

Ottawa W Roman Wick was given a parting gift by the Senators Thursday. With Milan Michalek ready to return from a broken foot Friday night against the Capitals, Wick will have to be sent back to the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Still, his parents did manage to see him play in the NHL. Wick’s father Marcel and mother Jeannelte flew in from Zurich to see Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden. “It’s great for every player to have your parents watch you in an NHL game,” said Wick. “Unfortunately, they couldn’t come and watch the first game (he played in the NHL). I’m really happy they’re here.” ... I wish I could have made it down to Liata’s Cafe on East 42nd St. Thursday, but I just didn’t have time. Stanley Thompson, aka “The Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld, was handing out free soup ... C Jason Spezza has been the Senators’ best player in the past month ... Ottawa F Zack Smith and Rangers D Michael Sauer dropped the gloves in the first period. No punches were thrown. They got out of the box in the second period after serving unsportsmanlike conduct minors and still barely threw a punch at each other — Smith threw one.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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