by Todd Anderson
On Saturday, a new crop of Senators prospects will be selected during the 2006 NHL Entry Draft at GM Place in Vancouver. With the 28th pick owned by Ottawa, general manager John Muckler expects that pick to turn into an NHL player.
"You should be able to get a player that will play in the NHL," he said. "He might not end up staying with your team, but he should be able to reach the NHL."
While Muckler was scheduled to attend the NHL GM meetings this morning, he also planned to sit down with his scouting staff afterwards to go through strategy heading into tomorrow's draft. Muckler said there's the possibility of trading up in the draft for a higher pick or, conversely, dealing Ottawa's first-round pick away.
"We looked at that. I'll meet with my staff today. The question is, what can you get if you trade your pick?"
While draft day is primarily about stockpiling prospects, the event usually includes several trades involving current NHLers. A long-time NHL executive, Muckler feels the new collective bargaining agreement will lead to new approaches when teams are built.
"I don't think people understand what the cap system is going to do. It's going to be like the NFL (National Football League). A lot of players will be available, a lot of players are going to move. The reason . . . the money. When you try to make a deal now you have to know where it fits into your budget. You have to look at the future. What's your payroll going to be maybe one year from now or two years from now. Some of us might be pretty close to the cap. You have to have some flexibility there."
Muckler says he would like to grab a goaltender with his top pick tomorrow to bolster the Senators' depth at that position. As for next season, there are prospects who he feels have a shot at playing in Ottawa. They are forward Alexei Kaigorodov and defenceman Andy Hedlund.
Hedlund was signed to a one-year contract by Ottawa on June 19. The former Binghamton Senator played inGermany last year.
Kaigorodov has played his entire career in his native Russia. For the skilled playmaker to skate in Ottawa next season, Russia would have to sign a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL to allow player transfers from that country into the NHL. Muckler said he was hoping to learn more about that situation at the GM meetings today.