OTTAWA - It has been business as usual for the Senators.
Now, all business is on hold.
After signing centre Kyle Turris (five-years, $17.5 million) and Zack Smith (four-years, $7.55 million) to extensions in the last two weeks, Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed he won’t be doing anything else until there’s a new CBA in place.
While there is concern the Senators aren’t at the salary cap floor of $54.2 million with $51.9 million committed for next season, nobody is sure what the new CBA is going to look like once it’s settled. The floor could be non-existent.
“We’re below and we’re not doing anything until we find out what the actual dollars will get to and we’ll have to act accordingly,” said Murray.
The Senators took people by surprise when they decided to extend the deals of Turris and Smith this summer. Both are young players with a lot to prove, but Murray said he believes both are going to improve down the road.
“We know the core here is (Daniel) Alfredsson, (Jason) Spezza, (Chris) Phillips and guys like that, but these are young men that — under the current rules — will become free (agents) in the not too distant future,” said Murray.
“They are important people. One of the main items that we’re trying to achieve here is: We’re trying to draft well or trade for good, young players and then to try to keep them. It’s hard to keep them for a long time if you don’t make a commitment. We’re trying to get a little bit ahead of the curve in that way as far as dollars and also opportunity for young guys to become important for a long time.”
Naturally, the system could change in a new CBA, but Murray believes the framework will remain the same because the salary cap isn’t about to disappear.
“It will be somewhat the same,” said Murray. “The dollar amount or the age of free agency might change a year or so. I don’t think there will be dramatic changes. At least, I don’t foresee that.
“I think now we have Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris and Zack Smith ... we don’t have a lot of centres in the organization. Having them tied up for a period of time gives us security that they’ll be able to play at a good level for a long time. The two young guys, I believe, will get better. I think we know what they are and in all likelihood what they’re going to be, but we’re projecting a little bit as well. We feel good about being able to do that with certain guys and, as we go forward, if we get started to play hockey there are a couple of younger, types of guys that we would like to talk to at some point during the year.”
This means rookie Mika Zibanejad, the club’s No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, won’t be used in his natural position.
“We’re going to put him at wing to start with, in all likelihood left wing,” said Murray. “If he starts in Binghamton, we had that meeting and discussion (Wednesday) with (Baby Sens coach) Luke (Richardson) and (Zibanejad), we think that because of the type player that he is that he would be an effective player on the wing.
“He seems to have been able to play there both with the world junior team and back in Sweden. The one good thing about a guy like Mika is that he can play either side. But, for us, the left side might be a need as we project it, especially with (Mark) Stone, (Stefan) Noesen and (Jakob) Silfverberg being right-hand shot guys.”
THIS ’N’ THAT
Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who arrived from Sweden two weeks ago, hasn’t been skating with area players because he’s been nursing a minor injury he suffered in training. He is expected to be on the ice soon ... Murray said he wanted to keep D Matt Carkner, but couldn’t give him anything close to the three-year, $4.5-million he got as an unrestricted free agent from the Islanders. “I felt I couldn’t do that,” said Murray.