OTTAWA – Bryan Murray was there to talk about re-signing his award-winning head coach to a contract extension, but the main topic of conversation was his veteran captain’s future.
“I guess it’s the big issue in town now,” the Ottawa Senators general manager told reporters Thursday. “I didn’t realize it was that big an issue because we’re going to get it done I would assume.”
Murray is confident he’ll re-sign Daniel Alfredsson despite reports that several teams may be courting the Swedish star when the free agency period begins Friday.
Working on the premise of a one-year deal, Murray is waiting to hear back from Alfredsson’s agent J.P. Barry.
“I have not heard the dollar figure at this point,” Murray said during a news conference to discuss head coach Paul MacLean’s three-year contract extension.
The two sides were expected to discuss details later Thursday, Murray said, adding that he’s been disappointed by reports suggesting the Senators and owner Eugene Melnyk are being cheap with the 40-year-old Alfredsson.
“I wish people would just wait for some facts to come out before they make stories up that’s all,” said Murray.
Murray also confirmed David Clarkson spent the day in Ottawa on Wednesday as the Senators try to convince the 29-year-old winger that he would be a good fit with the team.
Clarkson, who spent the last six seasons with the New Jersey Devils, recorded 15 goals and nine assists this season and isn’t afraid to go to the net, a quality the Senators could use.
“He’s competitive, gritty, tough and last full season he got 30 goals,” said Murray. “We hope that he chooses us, unfortunately we don’t dictate all of it. I’m sure he’ll have a number of options, but he is one person we have targeted and he fits the role that we’re really looking for.”
Clarkson is good friends with Senators centre Jason Spezza, which the Senators hope will help sway the Toronto native.
Historically, Murray hasn’t been overly active on the opening day of free agency, but said Melnyk has given him permission to sign a free agent if the right player is available. Clarkson made $2.6 million last season and will obviously be looking for a raise.
With just over $43 million committed next season, the Senators are extremely close to the $44 million salary floor.
“I don’t think we’ll be a floor team and I don’t think we’ll be a cap team,” said Murray. “We’ll be in there somewhere.”
Murray believes the Senators are a desirable destination for players. The team has been competitive, shows promise for future success, has a strong coaching staff and has a good reputation among players.
“We’re a team now that is recognized as a place to come and play,” he said.