PHILADELPHIA - After sitting idle without a first-rounder in the NHL draft, one Ottawa Senators scout was thrilled to get to make some picks on Day 2.
"The scouts were happy," general manager Bryan Murray said. "I think somebody shook my hand at the end."
That wasn't the handshake Murray went into the weekend hoping for. And try as he did, he was unable to consummate a trade to give centre Jason Spezza his wish to leave Ottawa.
"I called the teams or took calls from teams that were interested," Murray said Saturday. "We talked about the return, the type of deal we wanted to make. In a couple of cases there was real interest and it went away. So I don't know whether it was because of the draft and on the day of the draft picks are very valuable, whether that was part of it or it was something different."
Murray wanted a first-round pick, a roster player and a prospect for his captain, who has a limited no-trade clause and thus the power to refuse to go to 10 teams. One of those 10 is Nashville, which had a deal worked out to get Spezza that couldn't go through because he didn't agree to go to the Predators.
"David (Poile) talked to me and we couldn't go there," Murray said. "I told (Spezza's agent) Rick Curran that today, I had a deal sitting there if I wanted to do it, but he was on the list of no-go's."
A Senators-Predators deal might've landed Ottawa the 11th pick. Instead, Poile pulled the trigger on getting winger James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
Considering that and the Anaheim Ducks' trade with the Vancouver Canucks for centre Ryan Kesler, Murray knows that "the field narrows a little bit."
Murray estimated that he talked to four or five teams about Spezza and that three expressed fairly serious interest. It never worked out, leaving everyone in the situation still hanging.
“I'm sure it's disappointing for him, it's disappointing for me because I'd like to accommodate him if I could, but he does have a year left on his contract," Murray said. "If that's the case we'll have a pretty good player for next year."
Or it's possible that teams circle back to the Senators after July 1 if they don't land Paul Stastny or another free-agent centre. As far as Ottawa's approach to the start of free agency, that's affected by Spezza, too.
"I don't know, that's the problem," Murray said. "Part of your decision is what can you spend, where does it fit and what do you get in return for a certain player? If you don't know that, then it's harder."
Unable to get anything done on the Spezza front, the Senators made five picks to stock up for the future. They took defenceman Andreas Englund 40th, defenceman Miles Gendron 70th, forward Shane Eiserman 100th, defenceman Kelly Summers 189th and left-winger Francis Perron 190th.
The 189th pick, a seventh-rounder, Ottawa got from the Winnipeg Jets for a 2015 sixth-rounder. That was the only trade Murray was able to make in Philadelphia.
"It just seemed to me there were a lot of phone calls, a lot of talking, people interested, but nothing really happened," he said. "I had to make one trade at the end, a seventh-round pick for the sixth next year just to say I did something. So that was my accomplishment."
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