The Ottawa Senators are patiently waiting to hear if their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, will retire and end his career as an Ottawa Senator, or return in an attempt to secure his legacy in Canada’s capital by leading the Senators to a Championship.
Sens GM Bryan Murray is operating under the assumption that his captain will return for the final year of his contract. Murray, along with owner Eugene Melnyk and Coach Paul MacLean all met at the NHL awards in Las Vegas with Alfredsson and had a good discussion about his intentions.
There is no question Alfredsson still has NHL-caliber skills… Elite-level NHL skills even. What Alfredsson is questioning however is his body’s ability to endure the rigors of an 82 game season. At 39 years of age, some things just don’t come as naturally as they did when you were 19!
“Do I have the energy and motivation to get ready for another year because I know I just can’t take the summer off and come to camp and hope I will do well. If I want to play I want to play at as high level as I can and that means you have to go through a summer of hard workouts and getting ready to play a full season,” he said.
Alfredsson is planning on committing to an off-season work out regime to gauge how his body responds before he makes a decision. In June, he suffered a throat infection that interrupted his training just prior to the NHL awards. As we approach the mid-point of the off-season there is still no official verdict from Alfredsson on his intentions.
“We don’t know when Daniel and his family are going to come to a final decision. They are thinking it through and we’ll let everybody know,” Alfredsson’s agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports said Monday from Kelowna, B.C.
Despite having good depth up front in Ottawa, Murray has made it quite clear he wants his captain back.
“I’ve told him I don’t think there’s any question he’s one of the best players on our team if not the best forward,” said Murray. “He showed that in Game 7 again. He shoots the puck, he skates well. I’m trying to discourage him like all heck to retire. I think he’s a great mentor for what we have coming with a couple young prospects from Sweden, but he smiled and said we’ll talk later.”
The Senators’ top three prospects are all Swedes in Robin Lehner, Mika Zibanejad, and Jakob Silfverberg. Alfredsson has already demonstrated how his rapport with top Swedish prospects can pay dividends as he billeted Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson for the past few seasons in Ottawa.
Both Zibanejad and Silfverberg will challenge for forward roster spots and will compete with the likes of Mark Stone, Bobby Butler, Stephane Da Costa for top six roles to play along with Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, and Alfie if he returns. There will be plenty of off-season decisions for the Ottawa Senators.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently proposed that the Senators may further entice Alfredsson to return by offering him a contract extension and signing bonus as the final year of his contract pays him only $1 million. Martin Brodeur and Ray Whitney who are both 40 years old, signed 2 year $9 million contract with New Jersey and Dallas respectively. Expect these contracts to be used as comparable if the Sens offer Alfredsson an extension.
The further into the summer this goes, the more likely it may be that Alfie decides to return. His off-season training is his test to determine if his body can continue to perform at an NHL-level. Since he has not announced that he feels it can not and is retiring, it is safe to assume everything is going well.
So far, so good!
He wouldn’t leave Murray in the dark if he knew he were retiring: Holding a roster spot for Daniel Alfredsson through the busiest period of the off-season could cost the Sens a shot at acquiring a top six replacement. Names such as Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan have been rumored targets of Murray this summer.
Perhaps the return of their Captain and franchise player would be the biggest acquisition of all.