Sens hope to have Heatley join Kovalev; Thashers re-sign Valabik

OTTAWA - Now that the Ottawa Senators have signed Alex Kovalev, general manager Bryan Murray wants to focus on bringing back disgruntled star Dany Heatley.

'We can fit both of those guys on our team very nicely, maybe one on left and one on right wing,' Murray said after presenting Kovalev with the No. 27 shirt during an news conference at Scotiabank Place.

The Senators signed the 36-year-old Russian to a $10-million, two-year deal on July 6.

They've been at a standstill with Heatley ever since the left-winger asked for a trade during the Stanley Cup final, citing his unhappiness with diminished ice time and his role with the team since Cory Clouston took over as coach in February after Craig Hartsburg was fired.

Heatley, who holds a no-trade agreement, and agents Stacey McAlpine and J.P. Barry vetoed a deal earlier this month that would have sent him to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forwards Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and defenseman Ladislav Smid.

Kovalev, who spent the past four full seasons and part of a fifth with the Montreal Canadiens before walking away as an unrestricted free agent, said if given the opportunity to speak with Heatley, he'd urge the two-time 50-goal scorer to return.

The two played together during the 2004-05 season in Russia with Ak Bars Kazan during the NHL lockout.

Recently, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said that he'd tried to contact the 28-year-old Heatley but had yet to have his call returned.

Thrashers re-sign big blueliner Valabik

ATLANTA - The Atlanta Thrashers re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Boris Valabik to a multiple-year contract. Terms of the deal, announced Tuesday, weren't released.

Valabik, 23, recorded five assists and 132 penalty minutes in 50 games with the Thrashers last season.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound defenseman has appeared in 57 career NHL games with Atlanta. Valabik has also played in 119 career games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.