What will it be, Alfie?

Captain Daniel Alfredsson. (DARREN BROWN, QMI AGENCY)

Captain Daniel Alfredsson. (DARREN BROWN, QMI AGENCY)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson is keeping everybody in suspense and hasn’t made his decision on what’s next.

While Senators GM Bryan Murray and the club’s faithful fans want to find out whether the Ottawa captain is going to return or retire, the 39-year-old Alfredsson is back in Sweden mulling over his next move.

“We don’t know when Daniel and his family are going to come to a final decision. They are thinking it through and we’ll let everybody know,” Alfredsson’s agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports said Monday from Kelowna, B.C.

Though it’s believed Alfredsson is leaning towards coming back to play out the final year of his contract, he wants to make sure he’s fully committed to off-season training before letting the Senators know what’s next.

If Alfredsson does return, don’t be surprised if the Senators either sign him to a one- or two-year contract extension or open discussions on a new deal immediately. He certainly showed last season there’s plenty of gas left in the tank.

The Senators want Alfredsson to finish his career in Ottawa. He will be 40 in December, but if the Senators talk contract, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and Dallas’ Ray Whitney are going to be used as comparables.

The 40-year-old Brodeur sniffed around the market, but agreed to sign a two-year, $9-million deal with the Devils Monday morning. Whitney, a UFA who spent last season in Phoenix, got a similar deal with the Stars.

Not only would an extension ensure Alfredsson doesn’t go anywhere as a UFA, the Senators could include a signing bonus so that Alfredsson gets a bump from the $1-million salary he’s supposed to collect 2012-13.

Murray has stated publicly in the past Alfredsson shouldn’t retire now and should consider playing at least a couple of more seasons because he was one of the club’s best players on many nights last season.

Alfredsson finished with 27 goals and 32 assists in 75 games last season. If he were to walk, he’d have to be comfortable with the fact he’s retiring without winning a Stanley Cup — and the Senators have as good a chance of winning it as anyone.

The Senators don’t want Alfredsson to rush his decision and Murray isn’t going to put any pressure on him, but he did place a phone call to Barry on July 1 asking to find out what’s happening in the “not too distant future”.

Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk have a pretty good idea which way Alfredsson is leaning. The two sides — including coach Paul MacLean and Barry — sat down to discuss the situation during last month’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

The Senators simply need to know because they’ve still got some decisions to make. If they lost Alfredsson, they could be forced to either hit the UFA market or make a trade to find a capable replacement.

Since the Senators are out of the running for Columbus winger Rick Nash, they’d have to look elsewhere to find a Top 6 winger to make a trade.

There isn’t a lot left on the free-agent market that is attractive.

Murray and his staff went into free agency operating under the assumption Alfredsson is going to be back. There’s no reason to believe that thinking has changed, but the Senators need to hear it from the man himself.

If Alfredsson does decide to retire, he has an advisory role in the front office waiting for him. At this juncture, though, it makes sense for him to keep playing because he’s still contributing in a more than meaningful way.

We all just have to be patient.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @sungarrioch


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