Senators active before the Olympic break

BM the GM returns

A 9:45 press conference was put together Friday to announce the Ottawa
Senators
organization had re-signed General Manager Bryan Murray for another year. 
While nobody had him pegged for retirement, the Sens wanted to make
sure Murray was staying right here. 

Murray has put his stamp on this team and has to be given credit for
the position they are in.  Of course, it did take him three times to hire
the right coach for this group of players.  Some of the players he
inherited, some he brought in.  But it has been under his guidance the
right players were retained and put into positions to grow.  Mike
Fisher, Jason Spezza, Nick Foligno, Erik Karlsson and Brian Elliot are just a few examples.

Since he and Tim Murray have taken over the last two drafts, the
consensus has been they have done a very good job of talent
evaluation.  Karlsson has already arrived, but according to sources
Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowan, Robin Lehner and Andre Petersson will
be factors with the organization within the next year or two. 
Petersson could be a star according to a high level member of the front
office.

For the direction Ottawa is heading, my guess is Murray will be able to sign an extension every year for the next little while.

Alex Picard, Johnathan Cheechoo on the move

Before the freeze, Murray made a couple of moves.  Alex Picard was
sent with a 2010 2nd round pick to Carolina for Matt Cullen to add a
little depth for the final push to the playoffs.  Cullen can play down
the middle, on the wing and plays some point on the power play.  An unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the Sens will make a decision then if they wish
to retain his services during the offseason.

Picard is a depth defenseman who was 50/50 to be back next year.  Over
the last month he has been a consistent healthy scratch and it wasn’t
until Karlsson went down injured that he got back into the lineup.  In
his second season with Ottawa Picard was usually inconsistent, but has
the ability to play all facets of the game. 

Cheechoo, part of the Heatley trade, was waived by the Sens.  If no
team claims him, he might be sent to the AHL to try and give Ottawa
some cap space.  Word around the rink over the last week was the Sens
were putting him on a line with Spezza and Michalek to showcase him. 
Well, he did play better and showed more jump in his game.  There were
over 12 scouts on hand yet Murray could not work out a trade.  Cheechoo
is a pro and understands the business; still he was a solid team player
and well liked.

Anton Volchenkov update

Murray mentioned that the Senators have made an offer to their
defenseman.  The Volchenkov camp have yet to make a counter offer but
were expected to reply in the near future.  The Sens will look to get
him under contract as soon as they can as he is a core player.

Volchenkov is a different creature.  He will pretend he doesn’t speak
English well but do it with a smile.  You talk to him away from the
rink he is fine; you throw a mic in front of him he clams up. 

Volchenkov took
a bit of a discount when he signed with Ottawa last because he is
comfortable here.  So you have to wonder if he will be willing to do so
again, especially with the cap going down.  And add to the calculation
the escrow payment players will make this year, and you have to wonder
how keen players will be to take the hometown discount.

My guess?  He will test the free agent market this summer.  After the
Sens game against the Capitals last night, Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin spent 10 minutes
waiting in the hallway to talk to Volchenkov.  And then they spent
another 20 minutes chatting.  Now the three will be spending the next two weeks in Vancouver for the Olympic games and after Anton blocked 11
shots, do you think they might bring up the fact that Washington would
be a good fit for him?  Guarantee it.

And add to the fact I spoke with a Capital player who said they could
use a player like him, I get the feeling he might be a good fit for the
Caps. Which isn’t a good sign for Ottawa.

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