Conrad to Peter, James
So, we’ve mentioned off and on how much Ottawa stinks on Hockey Night in Canada, and a superior blog went and quantified the stank. Over on Black Aces, Jeremy outlines how the Sens have lost 11 of their last 12 Saturday night games. And many of the games were outright ugly losses, too: they were outscored 48 to 17 over that stretch.
What with being so streaky, Leclaire getting hit on the bench with a flying toilet seat, our newest starting goaltender being an opened patio umbrella, and Jason Spezza, the Sens are essentially a collection of superstitions gone bad. Not terribly weird for pro athletes, except when our superstitions tend to involve playing hockey while being broadcast on television. This team needs some luck.
So, the season is just over a tenth through, and it’s still early enough that even with them being below .500 they’re only a couple points out of the playoffs. If they continue to play at this pace, at what point, if at all, do you make a move? Should this team pull off a trade to try and right the ship?
I’m on record as saying that this team could use a rebuild, so I think that if the team is below .500 come the halfway mark it needs to start preparing for the trade deadline in a big way. What I think is more likely, however, is that this team trades a young player with some upside – Foligno, Regin, maybe a prospect – and a pick for a forward like Cullen (but not Cullen) who won’t single-handedly solve the scoring problems but is expected to push the rest of the room. This strategy will only stall the inevitable. Though I hate to think what attendance will look like if the Sens miss the playoffs for 3-4 seasons.
Love song to another team: I know Nashville is just about the least sexy team in the league to follow, but it really is pretty incredible how they’re always in the thick of the conference with so little to work with. They lost Arnott and Hamhuis – a core leader and a valuable shut-down defenceman – and didn’t miss a step. This is the story every year. Think about what the loss of Volchenkov and Sutton did to us. One of these days the fans in Nashville will be rewarded with a long playoff run.
Peter to Conrad, James
The only upshot of a terrible Saturday night sens performance is a mildly drunk Conrad spewing epithets directed at HNIC support staff.
Yes, the Sens could use a rebuild, but how? There is no real template for a quick rebuild. We’re all in agreement that a 4-5 year plan of reaganomics would pretty much bring out the “meh” in most Ottawa fans. So how do we pull this off? The models for Pittsburgh and Washington and even Chicago all involve extended periods of cellar dwelling. San Jose went the blockbuster trade route (twice!).
I’m not entirely sure we need a complete tear down. One thing I will say is we need to pull off a trade of a major asset for an impact player and pics with bona fide potential. If I were Brian Murray I’d wait about a month then get my flying monkey scouts to every contending team’s AHL games. We have young talent (which we don’t play, so this plan might get gangrene before we even get a chance to amputate) but there is a serious lack of offensive dynamism.
Ideally I’d like to see Murray target a team new to contending for a playoff with questionable management (hello, Islanders!) to try and steal a young, talented finisher and a pick. I think it might be time to trade Jason Spezza, if only he’d play better so we can showcase him to potential suitors.
Then there’s always the trade Alfie to a genuine contender route, though I don’t think I could take him in a Habs jersey. Gah, the goggles, they do nothing!
Conrad to Peter, James
I agree that the 5 year rebuild is hard to swallow, but I’m also a strong believer that there are two ways that a team rebuilds – 1) when they have expiring or reasonable contracts for high-priced veterens that could yield a return, or 2) when the wheels come off the wagon, like in Edmonton last year, and the team is forced. The Oilers aren’t rebuilding…they’re just terrible. They’re spending to the cap, and aren’t able to trade assets, so they’re not maximizing their return like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Angeles or Washington did. (They’re also burning a year on all their young kids’ ELCs, which is an awful idea, but that’s another story…)
Ottawa will be forced into a rebuild sooner or later. The worst case scenario isn’t going for it now, but signing some high-priced UFAs in the offseason and then having to do it later anyway. You could be right, Pete, in that maybe the team only really needs one or two high-ish end prospects, but I’m not so sure.
I would start by trading Phillips at the deadline. It would be sad to see Big Rig go, but with an expiring and extremely affordable contract ($3.5M/year) and tons of experience, Ottawa might be able to get a pick and / or a prospect at the deadline.
Kovalev is a given, though what Murray could get is a mystery. It seemed last year like all mid-level players yielded a 2nd round pick. Is Kovelev even mid-level anymore?
A Spezza trade might also be good, though with that contract Ottawa would have to take bad salary back – the only teams at least $7M under the cap don’t have $7M in cash to spend for the next few seasons. I think the Sens are stuck building around Spezz for the time being. Also keep in mind that there’s nothing resembling a 1st line center in the Sens’ prospect pool, so that’s a lot of years of watching Mike “Not a legit 2nd line center” Fisher as our primary playmaker.
Speaking of Fish, I hear he and Nashville are sweet on each other. Nashville is flush with blue-chip defensive prospects and, as we all know, Murray has a boner for those types of players. Can’t help but feel that Murray would go for a straight-up Fisher for Roussel or Franson (Blum is probably ungettable given this team will probably lose Suter, like, next season or something).
Ruutu is on an expiring contract, though no one thinks of him as a game-changer. I’d also like to see him re-signed, given he’s affordable and plays on the kill. There has apparently also been an interest in Kelly.
Finally, if Alfie will waive his no trade clause he could garner the biggest return. His cap hit is less than $5M, and his salary dips from $7M to $4.5M next year (and $1M after that). He’s still playing at a point-per-game pace. This is risky, though, as trading the franchise’s most beloved player could result in more than disinterest from the fans. The Sens could have wholesale mutiny on their hands.
James to Conrad, Peter
I had to meet up with some friends from out of town on Saturday night. They aren’t hockey fans so I made sure to select a place that provided a great atmosphere but was also a place where I would still be able to “keep an eye on the game.” Now, typically I full out watch a game rather have it on in the background. But on top of wanting to be a good host I just knew the Senators taking Saturday night’s tilt would be more of a pleasant surprise than anything *cue sad Charlie Brown music*. When it comes to hockey or sports in general I definitely give trends the time of day. I also don’t recognize them as absolutes. I see a home game vs. Buffalo as a hot ticket (meaning likely a Sens win) but was not livid when they dropped the season opener to them. They were due, as they say. The last game against Thomas a season ago, all the media talked about was how Thomas blah di blah never loses to the Sens…then he got chased in the first period en route to an Alfie hat trick.
Nevertheless, I was already hip to this trend pointed out by Jeremy, as I often try to incorporate a Saturday night Sens HNIC (with the sound off) into my plans…As you could imagine I have a lot of sad memories. Further, the only time the Sens don’t get absolutely blown out by Toronto lately is on a Monday morning when the game is broadcast on W⋍ϧϥ̆ϤΏ Ràdio Konstantinople. So what the hell is it? Can the boys just not perform on the big stage? Are the Sens “due” already, frig?
At any rate, still don’t feel you on the rebuild. It’s too extreme. I think you can’t go from a playoff miss by a couple of points, then MAKE the playoffs with a seriously depleted line up, and then call for a complete overhaul. Does anyone want to go see the Atlanta game on Tuesday? I’ll go if you guys want but I don’t think a lot of people in the city will. So if our fans wont make it out to ANOTHER city’s rebuilding team…I am not comfortable counting on us making it out game after game to see our own homegrown shit pile. To build on what Peter was saying, the requisite cellar dwelling for 4-5 years also comes with the whole teetering on the brink of folding, in most cases. Sorry, memories of already nearly losing the team are still too fresh. We basically had to give Melnyk SBP tax free to get him to buy.
Our depth is crazy good, our prospects are looking great too. There are admittedly some big flaws in the fundamentals. A top 4 shutdown D man, a better than average goaltender (I know, sky-high expectations over here), someone who can fill in as a finishing RWer in a post-Alfie world (shudder). Three players. It could cost us some of our depth, but I just think this is doable considering the sea change in contracts approaching next season.
Like I have said many times in this still very young season, with eleventy squillion dollars soon coming off the books, I’d like to see what we can get in the off season.
I still can’t get behind this trade Spezza talk. First line centres are too rare. Getting rid of Joe Thornton didn’t do the Bruins any favours. We are too emotional with Spezza. I get, get, get the frustration. I get it. But nobody is going to trade us their better centre for him and we don’t have a sure-thing pivot on the farm. I just think everyone would be 10 times as pissed to see Spezza go with nothing on the horizon and sit through Ian White putting up what will always be disappointing numbers for the team. Want to talk rebuild? Look how dumb Milbury looked for giving us Spezza in the first place…a point per game 1st line pivot for a quick fix “impact” guy. I think Murray would look just as stupid letting him walk for a lesser scapegoat. He was a point per game coming off a groin injury last night. I think we are already too impatient with a half-decent team, let alone half a decade of a dog and pony show