Surgery for Alfredsson? Prospects in Ottawa

A report says Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will have back surgery this week. (TONY...

A report says Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will have back surgery this week. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency file photo)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:16 AM ET

OTTAWA - Amid a report that their oldest player has decided to have back surgery, the Senators have all but completely ruled out the chances of either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson becoming their youngest.

It’s unlikely they would have had much success trying to trade up to draft either Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American skater or No. 1 rated European anyway, but director of player personnel Pierre Dorion did narrow things somewhat when he pointed to a group of six players he said he’s “99% certain” the Senators will take with their first pick on June 24.

Apparently, it will be one of the five centres currently in Ottawa to work out for and speak with management, or another, defenceman Dougie Hamilton, who could not make it due to prior commitments.

Skating at Bell Sensplex Monday were Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs (CSB’s sixth ranked North American), Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs (CSB’s eighth ranked North American) and Mika Zibanejad of Djurgarden, Sweden (CBS’s second ranked European).

On Tuesday, hitting the ice and being interviewed by the Senators again will be Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers and Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 among North American skaters.

Hamilton is ranked fourth.

“One of the five guys here, or Hamilton, is most likely our pick,” said Dorion.

Meanwhile, it appears as though the waiting and wishing is over for Daniel Alfredsson, who has reportedly decided to take action against his ailing back.

According to a story on Le Droit’s website, the Senators captain will have surgery to correct a problem that cut short his 2010-11 season. It’s believed the recovery time is 4-6 weeks.

In April, the 38-year-old Alfreddsson admitted that back surgery was a possibility — albeit his least preferred option. He also said that he was not considering retirement.

When he was forced out of the lineup on Feb. 7, he was the team’s leading scorer with 14 goals and 17 assists in 54 games.

The franchise leader in every offensive category, Alfredsson still has two years left on a contract that has an annual cap hit of $4,875,000.

The Senators met the prospects at last week’s NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, at which point they apparently narrowed down their list.

“For us, (bringing them to Ottawa is) just a chance to also get to know them as individuals,” Dorion was reported saying on the Senators website. “At the combine, spending 20 minutes with them doesn’t give you a fair evaluation of them as people (and) what gets them excited. Spending a whole day and half with them just gives us a better evaluation of who they are.

“Kids now are so programmed. They come into the interview and they say ‘yes, I’m a good hockey player, yes I’m a good person, I work out.’ But when you spend a day and a half with them, you get to know them more as individuals.

“The guy (we select) is probably going to be here for our franchise for the next 10 years, and the extra day or day and a half really helps us evaluate the player.”

Making a late-season push for the scout’s attention was Zibanejad, a 6-foot-2, 191-pounder who some think could sneak into the draft’s top five selections.

Dorion said his offensive ability, skating and lower body strength contributed to the rise of his stock.

“I was over there (in Sweden) seeing him player for Djurgarden in the playoffs and he had an impact as an 18-year-old playing against 30-year-olds,” said Dorion.

Zibanejad is having fun with all the attention he’s been getting lately.

“You don’t have it back home,” he said. “I try to enjoy it as much as possible and I hope to get used to this.”


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