OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson is taking his own Swede time.
The reality is because it's July and not September, the Senators aren't pressing Alfredsson to make a decision on his playing future just because the announcement of his return might sell a few extra season tickets.
The good news is the Sun has confirmed the Senators captain is working out near his home in Gotenburg, Sweden as discussions between GM Bryan Murray and agent J.P. Barry continue to get a one-year extension in place.
The 39-year-old Alfredsson hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’s going to play next season, but it’s fair to say it’s looking good and it shouldn’t be much longer before he announces whether he’ll return or retire.
Just the fact Alfredsson is in the gym is a positive sign for the franchise and its fans. He told the Sun last season he had to make sure “the fire still burned” to do the off-season workouts required to get ready to play.
Apparently, it does.
If that trend continues, the club’s best player should have no issue with returning next season to help Ottawa take another step in trying to get back to being a consistent contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Senators respect the fact that if Alfredsson is going to return to play, he wants to make sure he’s 100% committed to being back and won’t have any regrets about continuing his career.
Alfredsson, Barry and Murray have been in regular contact throughout the summer.
Scheduled to make $1 million in the final year of his deal, it only makes sense for Alfredsson to get an extension if he does come back.
If Alfredsson gets a signing bonus on the new deal and decides to retire at the end of the 2012-13 season, then his cap hit would disappear. Under the current CBA, the over-35 rule only applies on multi-year extensions.
Getting Alfredsson back is a key for Ottawa. The Senators weren’t able to acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets — despite a substantial offer — because he refused to waive his no-movement clause to come to Ottawa.
The Senators are trying to get another top-6 winger through the trade market — and have set their sights on Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan. But that’s a longshot and losing Alfredsson to retirement would leave an even bigger hole.
A nominee for the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey, he proved he can still play and contribute with 27 goals and 32 assists for 59 points in 75 games last season. Alfredsson isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
If the Senators and Murray felt Alfredsson wasn’t going to return, the club would have probably been more aggressive in trying to bring in another forward after Nash thumbed his nose at Canadian teams.
While the Senators have been searching for another top-6 forward, they’re not going to the lengths they did in trying to get Nash.
Having Alfredsson back is the club’s first choice and, ultimately, they hope it’s his.
LAST RFA SIGNS: Alfredsson is the only player the Senators are waiting on at the moment. Restricted free-agent centre Stephane Da Costa, signed as a UFA in March 2011, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract Wednesday.
He’ll make $800,000 if he’s in the NHL and $80,000 in the AHL. With 13 forwards on one-way contracts, it’s going to be tough for the 23-year-old to earn a job. Assistant GM Tim Murray said Da Costa needs to get stronger.
“He still has a ways to go in that department,” said Murray.