Sens set to play Let's Make a Deal
While team may have been in selling mode last season, GM will likely look to add
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators general manager Bryan Murray speaks to the media at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Sep. 16, 2011. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)
NEW YORK - There will be no firesale this spring in Ottawa.
The Senators are sitting in the No. 5 playoff spot in the East, seven points ahead of the No. 9- ranked Winnipeg Jets as Ottawa prepares to face the first-place New York Rangers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
While many believed the Senators would struggle and be near the bottom of the standings, they’re in a good position with 39 games left. As GM Bryan Murray holds amateur and pro scouting meetings in Florida this week, the mindset has changed.
Not only might Murray hold onto unrestricted free-agent blueliner Filip Kuba before the Feb. 27 trade deadline, the Senators could be buyers this year, a far cry from their position a year ago when they were moving players out.
With winger Bobby Butler struggling to score goals at the pace he did last season, the Senators may look to add a forward for scoring depth, especially if the club has a chance to make a playoff run.
Murray told ESPN Wednesday he will try to be a buyer if the Senators stay in the hunt. Since Murray wouldn’t want to subtract from the roster, it’s possible junior prospects Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel could be trade bait.
“We’re just going to try to keep winning hockey games and keep ourselves in the picture,” said centre Jason Spezza. “(Murray) will do what he thinks he has to do. It might be do nothing, let us play and be the group that we are.
“We’re confident with the group we have. We don’t feel like we need to add anything or subtract anything right now. That’s how we’d like to keep it. If (Murray) feels he needs to add, he’ll do that. He’s done a good job of using his discretion to this point.”
Spezza said the focus remains long-term.
“Our team isn’t a team that’s not just built for this year, but also for the big picture. I think he’ll take that into consideration as well,” said Spezza.
“We’re trying to put ourselves in a position where we’re not (sellers). We like the group and the guys we have. Once you get into the playoffs, you never know.”
Coach Paul MacLean said the Senators can’t afford to sit back and be content.
“I see this team with 39 games to play and an awful lot that can happen,” said MacLean. “Right now, we’re all pleased with what we’ve done and how we’ve grown as a team, but the final bell isn’t until we’ve played 82 games.
“We’re very pleased with where we are. We’re pleased with the way we’ve worked and how we’ve grown as a team. We have to continue to do that (to have success).
“By no means have we accomplished anything or are we anywhere near to being the type of team that we expect to be at the end.”
FIVE FORWARDS AVAILABLE
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton: Will move sooner or later.
Tuomo Ruttu, Carolina: Bidding war for this guy.
Jordin Tootoo, Nashville: Stirs the pot.
Olli Jokinen, Calgary: Little playoff experience.
Frans Nielsen, N.Y. Isles: Asking for big money.