OTTAWA - The Senators may not be done big-game hunting.
Though any chance of landing Columbus Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash has been scratched off the list, don’t rule out the possibility of the Senators making a pitch for unhappy Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan.
While the Senators believe top prospects Jacob Silfverberg and Mark Stone and newly-signed winger Guillaume Latendresse are going to battle for spots, don’t be surprised if Ottawa is in the Ryan sweepstakes.
Even if captain Daniel Alfredsson does decide against retirement and signs an extension, the Senators could still add depth up front. With its pursuit of Nash, the club proved owner Eugene Melnyk is willing to spend.
Though business was on hold while six teams with a serious chance of signing winger Zach Parise waited for him to agree to terms with the Minnesota Wild Wednesday, trade talk heated up again Thursday.
Ryan, 25, is going to be a valuable commodity on the trade market. He had 31 goals and 26 assists in 82 games, which means he’s going to be in heavy demand once the Ducks decide exactly what they’d like in return.
Since former Washington winger Alexander Semin — a high-risk gamble by any stretch of the imagination — is the only legitimate high-scoring forward left as a UFA, attention could very well turn to Nash and Ryan.
So desperate is Nash to get out of Columbus he might be willing to expand his potential trade list from four teams, but even if he is to put Ottawa on his new list, Melnyk told QMI Agency Tuesday the club doesn’t want Nash.
That means the Senators could focus on Ryan.
Sources say Ducks GM Bob Murray isn’t sure what he’s going to do with Ryan. The organization wasn’t pleased with public comments he made last month, indicating the best move for both sides is a trade.
If Murray is going to deal Ryan, the Ducks want to get a big return. They badly need a young defenceman after prospect Justin Schultz thumbed his nose at the club, declared himself a free agent and signed with the Oilers.
The Ducks are also going to require help down the middle if they’re going to do any deal. The belief is Murray wants a second-line centre in return as part of any trade for Ryan because Anaheim is short on depth up front.
Though Senators GM Bryan Murray said he’s done in free agency after Ottawa signed defenceman Mike Lundin and Latendresse and then dealt Nick Foligno to Columbus for Marc Methot last Sunday, don’t be so sure his moves are over.
The Senators need to get closer to the cap floor of $54 million. They have approximately $47 million committed to next season. The club has no issue with adding Ryan’s $5.1 million cap hit through 2014-15.
Sources say the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Senators are amongst a group of teams that will make a pitch for Ryan. The Ducks may also have to clear salary off the deck to sign Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
The Senators can get in talks like this — and be competitive — because Bryan Murray, assistant Tim Murray and director of player personnel Pierre Dorion have done a good job re-stocking the shelves with prospects.
Depending what route the Ducks take, the Senators could have the pieces Anaheim would want in return. Young forward Mika Zibanejad and goalie Robin Lehner were both made available to the Jackets for Nash.
The Senators still have plenty of time to do business before the puck is dropped. Yes, the name of Nash might be scratched off the list, but the club could easily turn to Ryan just as quickly.