OTTAWA – Bryan Murray could make his biggest move before the NHL draft even begins.
The Senators general manager says he expects to know Daniel Alfredsson’s status for next season before the first selection is made Sunday.
The 40-year-old Sens captain has returned to Sweden with his family, but met with Murray prior to leaving and said he would likely give him an answer by draft day.
An unrestricted free agent, Alfredsson has been contemplating retirement or returning for another season.
“I have a feeling he wants to play,” said Murray. “That was certainly something he wanted to look at again further and whether that will be the final answer or not I don’t know at this point.”
If he and Alfredsson do agree on a new deal, Murray can’t officially re-sign him until the free agency window opens July 5. Murray says he expects it would only be a one-year contract.
“He felt good when he talked to me,” said Murray. “He said he felt healthy. He hadn’t worked out much, but wanted to do that starting this week and I think that’s all he was waiting for was to feel good about another summer of working hard and getting ready for a hockey season.”
Murray said having Alfredsson “is better than most free agents we could get.”
The Senators have the 17th overall selection and while they believe they can get a solid player, Murray has been trying to move up.
Murray has had discussions with a number of general managers, but said nothing has materialized as of yet.
It’s anticipated the asking price to move up could be fairly steep.
“I think it would be difficult to move up from the indications I’ve gotten,” said Murray. “I haven’t even gotten a price to move up, but as I’ve been told by a couple managers it’s hard to move back to 17 from where (they) are.”
Murray has said he wouldn’t shy away from moving some of the team’s younger prospects if it meant he could improve the team, but it’s unlikely he would give up too much to just move up a few spots. If anything, Murray is looking to trade for a twenty-something player that can come in and make an immediate impact for the club.
The Senators have seven selections this year, but just one in the first round and one in the third.
Ottawa’s second-round pick will go to the St. Louis Blues as the result of last year’s trade that sent Ben Bishop to the Senators in exchange for this pick.
While the Senators say they just want to pick the best player available, it appears they have a preference.
“If you go back and look at past drafts it’s tough to get an impact defenceman at that point so I’ll let you guys figure that out,” said assistant general manager Tim Murray. “I would say the percentages say it would be a forward, but maybe a D drops.”
The Senators have set their sights on a handful of players and in an effort to get to know them better, four were brought in a couple of weeks ago for more extensive interviews.
“Most of the time at 17 the player won’t play for you right away, but I think you’re looking at someone in the short term that can still do something,” said director of player personnel Pierre Dorion.
The Senators are preparing for every possible scenario. They have studied players right from the top of the list all the way through to the 150th in the event a deal gets made.
Dorion joked that the most intense discussions can often be about players ranked 78th or 79th.
“That could be our third-round pick or our fourth-round pick and we have to be prepared for that scenario,” he said.
Dorion is also quick to add that everyone on the scouting staff has a voice and there have already been healthy discussions regarding the team’s first-round pick.
This will be Murray’s seventh draft with the Senators and if history is any indication, it’s likely the Senators’ selections will be players from North America or Sweden.
Murray has also shown an affinity for drafting local talent.
“Right from the start Bryan and Tim have said if there’s a good player and he’s from the area then we should definitely consider him,” said Dorion. “Choosing a local player is beneficial to both parties.”