Mendes on Senators: Alfredsson playing it smart

Ottawa Senators' Daniel Alfredsson, left, seen here shaking hands with New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in 2007. (AP/Bill Kostroun)

Daniel Alfredsson is taking a page out of the Martin Brodeur playbook.

And in all likelihood, it will land the veteran captain a more lucrative deal with the Ottawa Senators.

A year ago, the hockey world was turned upside-down when Brodeur announced he was going to test the free agent market for the first time in his career. He hired Pat Brisson as his new agent to handle negotiations leading into the opening of the free agent market on July 1.

Nobody could wrap their heads around the idea of Brodeur playing for a team other than the Devils. But Brisson knew exactly what he was doing when he let it be known that Brodeur was going to test the market.

The Devils were initially offering Brodeur a one-year contract and it was clear the netminder wanted the security of a two-year deal. Lou Lamoriello and the Devils weren’t budging from their stance, so Brodeur and Brisson played the most powerful card they had in their deck and announced they were headed to the open market.

Shortly after the free agency period opened last year, Brodeur and Brisson were flooded with calls. And two teams — believed to be the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs — were so aggressive in their pursuit of Brodeur that they offered the legendary netminder two-year contracts.

And suddenly, Brodeur had the one thing that all free agents are seeking: leverage.

He and Brisson went back to the Devils with the new offers and within a few hours, they had hammered out a new two-year contract with New Jersey. Lamoriello knew he had to match the offers that were on the table for Brodeur and by July 2, he was re-signed in New Jersey.

Fast forward to today and Sens fans are getting nervous about the prospect of seeing their captain suit up for another team. Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins have already stated their interest in Alfredsson and there are certainly other teams who have made contact with him now that they are free to negotiate with players. So just like Brodeur, Alfredsson and his agent JP Barry are doing their best to create a little bit of leverage for their side.

The smart money here says this situation plays out exactly like Brodeur’s did last year. The Senators captain is simply creating a little bit of leverage for himself — something he could not have if he negotiated exclusively with Ottawa. To maximize this leverage, he might follow Brodeur’s path and drag this out for a couple more days so that he even gets a concrete offer from a team like Boston.

But Alfredsson will take that offer back to Ottawa and surely Bryan Murray and Eugene Melnyk will either match it or come close enough to where the captain feels like it’s an easy choice to return to the Senators organization.

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