Bryan Murray doesn’t understand all the commotion surrounding Daniel Alfredsson.
From the general manager’s perspective, he doesn’t buy into the speculation that the captain of the Ottawa Senators will be moving on to another team via free agency this week.
“I guess it’s the big issue in town. I didn’t realize it was that big an issue because we’re going to get it done, I assume,” Murray said on Thursday.
In the past 48 hours, stories have circulated that other teams are targeting Alfredsson as a potential free agent.
Several teams — including the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks — have reportedly held discussions with Alfredsson since teams are now allowed to negotiate with unrestricted free agents.
But Murray is not worried about the threat from rival GMs who might be eyeing his star captain.
“I understand if another manager calls. That’s their job — that’s my job,” explained Murray. “I’m calling other free agents and they belong to other teams. That’s our job to investigate every player that could be out there. So I’m doing that. And if Boston is doing that or San Jose is doing that, good for them.”
Murray and Alfredsson’s agent JP Barry have spoken several times on the phone in the past few days. They are now negotiating a one-year contract for the 2013-14 season — although Murray has said the two sides have not exchanged hard financial numbers.
Murray said his phone conversation with Barry on Wednesday ended on very friendly terms.
“It was simply like this: “Talk to Alfie and ask him how much he needs to play in Ottawa,” Murray said. “I assume they will call me today and we’ll have an opportunity to talk and decide where we’re going. That’s where it’s at.”
The Senators general manager also refuted suggestions that his club may not be able to afford Alfredsson, given the tight financial constraints of operating a small market team.
Murray said he has spoken to owner Eugene Melnyk about 10 times this week and the owner has been fully supportive from a financial perspective.
“All these other stories of Mr. Melnyk not allowing this to happen or that to happen financially, I don’t know where this comes from,” said Murray. “He’s given me the green light to go get a free agent if I can. I told him the target I had. We are getting comments made that I don’t understand.”
Murray also confirmed that his primary free agent target is New Jersey right winger David Clarkson. The forward spent the day in Ottawa on Wednesday as the club made a hard sales pitch to lure him to the nation’s capital.
“It was a recruiting day. I’m sure he’d be intrigued, but he’d get the same story from a few teams. He did come to Ottawa and he did want to talk to us,” said Murray. “We did show him the neighborhood and did some things to encourage him to come here. We gave it our best pitch.”
Clarkson had a breakout season in 2011-12, collecting 30 goals and establishing himself as one of the best power forwards in the NHL. Murray admits he would add a much-needed dimension to the club’s forward unit.
“He’s competitive, gritty and tough. Last full season he had 30 goals. We hope that he chooses us. He is one person we’ve targeted and he fills the role that we’re looking for.”