Senators won't cash and burn

Bryan Murray decided to stay out of the high-stakes signing game on the opening day of NHL free...

Bryan Murray decided to stay out of the high-stakes signing game on the opening day of NHL free agency on Friday. (QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 PM ET

OTTAWA - While many NHL owners were opening their chequebooks on the opening day of free agency, the Senators decided to be patient.

GM Bryan Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk had a chat before teams spent in excess of $200 million on the free-agent market Friday, but with the exception of signing backup goalie Alex Auld, the club was quiet.

The Senators decided to stick with their rebuilding plan and did not jump in offering fistfuls of cash to a mediocre free-agent class.

“Our plan, starting at the trade deadline last year, was to put some young people on our team and compete because of energy, maybe not because of experience. That’s what we’re going to try to do,” said Murray.

“I’ve talked to Eugene Melnyk several times about that and again (Friday) morning to make it very clear from him and from me the direction this (team is taking) and what we’re trying to do here. Patience will be a little bit required, but I think we’ve got some upside in a number of young people and that’s sort of the route we decided to go.”

The Senators had hoped to add a top-six forward, but weren’t going to compete with the kind of cash being thrown around. Ottawa was in on Colorado winger Tomas Fleischmann until the end. But sources say the Senators weren’t going to fork over the kind of four-year, $14.5-million deal that Fleischmann received from the Florida Panthers, who were trying to add salary so they can get to the $48.3 million salary-cap floor.

The Senators are hoping winger Nikita Filatov can play on one of the top two lines. The Senators may look to bring in a role player to help on the third or fourth line. It’s believed they were interested in Benoit Pouliot before he signed with Boston.

“I thought about (adding a forward) and we’re still talking about one role on our team,” said Murray. “When we added Filatov, and I think the good thing that’s happened here is we have our development camp going on and I see possibilities with young people.

“I think I said early on, we talked about a top six, but getting Filatov here we’re going to give him or one of the other young guys that chance. We’ll see if we can find the right fit to round out the roster.”

There was an erroneous report the Senators were looking at Jaromir Jagr, who signed in Philly. Murray said that wasn’t true.

“We never made a phone call,” said Murray. “That’s not a knock on anybody. Our decision was not to go that way and not to go to an older player that would just cost money and probably wouldn’t want to come here anyway because he’d see all the young people that he’d have to hang out with and he’s a little beyond doing that I’m sure.”

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