We know that next year’s roster will likely include Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg, and possibly more of Ottawa’s many prospects, not to mention lost souls Bobby Butler, Stephane Da Costa and Nikita Filatov, who are scouring the bottom of the ocean looking for their game. So we’ve got a few UFAs to consider. (I’m not looking at RFAs like Nick Foligno or Peter Regin, because I assume they’ll all be back.) What better time than an exciting ramp up to the playoffs to look beyond said playoffs and consider the dry logistics of contract negotiation?
Jesse Winchester – After an injury shortened season, Winchester may end up the victim of incoming depth, particularly with the emergence of Jim O’Brien as a reliable 3/4 centerman and Peter Regin’s ability to switch to wing. I’d think he has to be worth the close-to-league minimum salary he’ll earn though, especially given how easily he draws into the lineup, his play on the penalty kill, and how strong he is along the boards. True NHLers who also happen to be cheap and will accept short contracts are valuable. If you have to sit him in the press box because of excess depth, that’s a problem most GMs would love to have. RE-SIGN HIM.
Zenon Konopka – When Zenon joined the Senators as his fifth NHL club in seven seasons, I was one of I imagine few people to be quite happy with it. Cheap, good face-off man, good in the room (we hear) and consistently leads the NHL is fighting majors, I was convinced that if you’re going to insist on having a player like that on your roster it may as well be him. 55 NHL games later and I’m not so sure. One consequence of Konopka fighting so much is that it seems to have little effect on the game itself. He fights as a matter of professional obligation, and it rarely seems in response to anything happening in game. It’s not accurate to say that he’s policing . I’ve become desensitized to Konopka’s presence. Worse, he’s prone to taking terrible penalties at bad times. CUT HIM LOOSE.
Colonel Klinkhammer – The Curious Case of Dr. Bob Klinkhammer, currently enjoying his longest stint in the NHL and not exactly lighting it up despite an opportunity to play extended periods with Alfredsson and Turris. 14 games in and he’s still looking for that first NHL goal. You’ve got to think that his natural spot on the team will be absorbed by Silfverberg or Zibanejad. At only 25 there’s plenty of potential here, but unless he’s willing to accept a two-way contract and spend time in Binghamton I just don’t see him returning to Ottawa. THROW THAT SKELETON OUT A HELICOPTER.
Filip Kuba – This is the biggest question facing Murray in the offseason other than how many zeros to add to Erik Karlsson’s contract. Kuba’s posting the best +/- of his career, and playing 20+ minutes a night. He’s a legitimate top four defenseman, and take a look at how few of those will be available July 1st. Barring some impossible run at Ryan Suter, Dennis Wideman, or maybe Johnny Oduya, this team isn’t going to replace those minutes internally. Or it could sign Jeff Finger. On the other hand, at 35 this is probably Kuba’s last professional contract, and I can’t blame him for insisting on three to four years at an average of $2MM-$3MM. That’s overpayment for Ottawa, but I’d still make the argument that it should happen. Cowen is still young, playing 20 minutes one night and 12 the next. There isn’t much defensive depth coming up, unless you think Eric Gryba is better than a bottom pairing D. Gonchar and Phillips will be a year older and less likely to shoulder the load. And he plays well with Karlsson. I think you’ve gotta PIAY THE MIAN HEESE MIONEE.
Matt Gilroy – Gilroy’s a tough nut to crack. He’s getting plenty of ice time, but in a system as wide-open as Ottawa’s you’ve got to think that a puck moving defenceman could do better than one assist in 13 games and a -2, especially considering that he had 17 in 53 and was a plus player with the terrible Lightning. He’s had his chances, and has famously blown a few open net shots. His CORSI is anemic. At this point you’ve got to think that he’s already scoping out potential destinations. MAKE HIM WATCH THE SANDRA BULLOCK VEHICLE ‘THE NET’ AND THEN DON’T RE-SIGN HIM.
Matt Carkner – I may be in the minority in thinking that Matt Carkner represents a fairly valuable type of player: cheap enough to occasionally sit without major consequence, willing to take a short deal, can play as a 6-7 defenseman in the NHL, and fights. Defensive depth is the name of the game, and if the acquisition of Matt Gilroy has showed us anything, a player good enough that you barely notice him is worth something. He may seem expendable, but he’s a low-risk player. Murray may let him walk only because he deserves a chance to sign longer term somewhere else, but if he’ll take something resembling his current deal, then UPGRADE HIS KITCHEN.
Alex Auld – Who? I think Auld got a raw deal this year, never being put in a position to succeed, but he’s obviously expendable with Ben Bishop towering over his shoulder and asking Auld “are you going to eat that?” Plus if Auld sticks around any longer Robin Lehner will cut the brake lines in his car. With so many teams desperate for goaltending, he’ll find work. RELEASE THE HOUNDS.
I know Lee had a bad wrap in Ottawa for some reason, but at the time he was traded we were winning every time he dressed. He wasn’t a prolific “Eric Karlsson” (thats a thing now) but was playing solid two way hockey before he left.
Who is Gilroy anyways? Half the time he’s coughing the puck up cause he can’t handle it under pressure, or trying to do to much thinking and not enough moving. Send this Chump packing. Anyone see him on the ice with Spezz and the boys with Power Play ice time? Niether did I. Its because the guy is invisible 99% of the time.
I say bring back the Klink and Kuba. We will need depth on defense as most of our prospects are playing now, and Klink brings an energy, crash and bang element. But like Gilroy, Klink seems to be invisible some games. Will he be willing to play in Bingo a little bit?
Goodbye Auld. Sorry dude……
Goodbye Konopka………….we’ve got a better one of you.
Goodbye Winnie………I got nothin for you
Dear Ben Bishop:
I apologize for things I may have said regarding your talent and confidence as a goaltender. I would like to formally apologize…………(blah blah blah). Get better soon.
I agreed with the Lee – Gilroy trade in principle, as Lee had reinvented himself as your basic positional shutdown D and Gilroy is a puck mover who might complement our Karlsson – Kuba – Gonchar backend. Lee was redundant with Carkner, Cowen and Phillips in the mix. But it’s not looking like it’s working out. Gilroy just doesn’t look confident out there. Last night was the perfect opportunity for him with Gonchar out, and he played about 3 minutes more than usual. He looked completely stymied by the trap.
hey, do you think that perhaps filatov could pull a radulov and disapppear to the ‘k’ for awhile and ‘find himself’, which as it turns out isn’t appearently in the bottom of a bowl of cocaine in Columbus nor Ottawa. viciously slap a coach across the face with his stick, lead the league in scoring and then reappear some years down the line to Ottawa and be a top line forward?
I’d put money on it. He can make ten times in the KHL what he’ll make playing in Binghamton. And he ain’t cracking the lineup next season.
You have to remember that Filatov is not one of the “celebrated” Russian hockey players as Radulov and others are. Russian’s weren’t happy that he came over to North America at a young age (after he was drafted) and ended up playing in the AHL (instead of starring in the NHL).
He’s been playing average in the KHL and he is not on their radar for Russian National teams. If Filatov stays in Russia, he’ll more than likely go the way of many former highly skilled Russian prospects that stay in Russia never to be heard of again.
Filly needs to come to North America and play a full season in the AHL in our system and establish himself as a sniper or a playmaking winger and learn to play a two-way game that is decent enough to play in the NHL.
He needs Ottawa more than they need him, and once he realizes that, maybe he’ll smarten up.
Yerp, agreed on the Lee thing but that’s old bones. OVER IT. We’re talking 6-7 defencemen here, they’re not unacquireable. (While we’re on the subject, Carks is looking better so lob something at him, he should be cheap. )
From what I saw last night Winch was looking really, really good. (On the boards. Obviously not wtfdidthatcomefromGilbertBrule8pts, but not losing pucks. And good pressure.)
We’re only talking short term on these guys anyways so if Winch>Klinkhammer at this particular moment, keep Winch.
Re: Kuba– the man is kinda a disaster outside contract years. Also I don’t think he’ll be as cheap as we hope. If we’re going to overpay, overpay for someone better? People bitch about the Phillips extension (less so now that he’s gone back to being better), but Kuba for 4 years could be a hell of a lot worse. I can’t take the Sun headlines at the best of days. UNLESS HE’S GOING TO BE REASONABLE TRY TO BE UNREASONABLE ELSEWHERE.
Jesse Myrtle Winchesterton-Spano:
The past couple of games have been a great example of how dependable and relatively skilled he is for a fourth line guy. Remember how when Ottawa signed him he was projected to be a top 6 slick playmaking centre? Aaaadorable. Anyway, I’m a fan, he’s great at faceoffs, can hit, fight, kill penalties and hang onto the puck well. Cant ask for much more from a grinder. He’s earned and deserves a roster spot. Sign him and be sure to take advantage of our no APR financing.
I actually thought Konopka has gotten a bit of a rough deal in Ottawa. The Sensphere reaaaaaaaaaally gives this guy a hard time for being exactly what he was advertized to be. Very good faceoff man to be used sparingly, sticks up for teammates, fights a lot and will score less than 5 goals. Check, check, check, check and check. If fans are mad at anyone they should be pissed at Murray for signing him I guess. Konopka can’t help that he was signed to do exactly what he’s doing. The centre depth provided in part by Konopka helped the season too, what with serious early season injuries to Winchester AND Regin in a pre-Turris paradigm. That said, it sucked having yet another guy on the team who’s rep for taking penalties precedes them with Refs. We already have Neil, Smith, “diver” Erik Karlsson and now Foligno for that. In terms of fighting ability Z Smith can chuck em, I think Neil fought Chara twice this year which is…above and beyond, Winnie, Cowen and Greening take the odd scrap too. I think that’ll do in that department. Anyway, seems like an awesome teammate and I hope he finds a new team where can get some consistent playing time.
Last year’s dismantling of the team showed me that all my getting attached to players is not very useful. For instance, Chris Kelly? Frigging loved that guy. Still do, always will…Do I miss him on the Sens? Not this year. Zack Smith is still honing his craft but its not like the team suffered the big drop off that I was expecting by losing a seasoned 3rd line pivot like Kells. What I’m saying is that I learned something about how expendable bottom 6 type players are and when they start making millions (like Kelly was) you need to keep that to a minimum cuz you can plug the right dudes in to do a lot of that work. What I’m getting at is, we acquired Col. Klink’s services for next to nothing, he’s been very solid in Binghamton and despite a very strong start to his audition has been largely lackluster with the big club. Given all the talent coming up in the system I say its 2 way contract or bust for Klinky. I hope he goes for it and signs a 2 way as we know he doesn’t look out of place at the NHL level if needed for a call up. Other than that, it’s unthinkable to imagine him taking a full time spot from an NHL ready rookie like perhaps Silfverberg. This is still a rebuild.
This is the most challenging decision Murray faces this summer. We liked Kuba back when he lead the Sens D in points. Then he hurt his back then he broke his leg then we all hated him. This year has seen him return to form and we’re eating our words a little bit up in here. I admit it. I used to call him Kuba Badding, Jr. Anyway, what’s the deal with him? Is it a back to normal points, career +/- year for a guy who’s finally recovered from injury or Rich Uncle Pennybags laying it on thick looking for one last big payday only to return to his sub 20 point ways? Like Varada pointed out, there’s a lot to like about Kuba esp compared to the approaching FA market. His age, allergy to physical play are turn offs. A long contract certainly doesn’t help the team get younger or cheaper but unless a rookie knocks management’s socks off Kubs could be our best option. Worse things could happen. I say sign him…two years would be fine. Id be okay with that. 3 would suck and is more realistic but I would not be a fan of that. Likely scenario: Bluejackets 2nd power play unit at 25 million per year for 10 years.
OLD GIL NEEDS A SALE! I try not to judge player too hard when they are just parachuted onto a new team but again, competition is high on a rebuilding Sens squad and I have this to say: Gilroy 13 games with Sens 0G 1A. Pat Wiercioch 8 games with Sens 0G 2A. Food for thought, especially when you consider Gilroy is 6 years older and makes 6 figures more than Wiercioch would make. Im not saying Wiercioch is better or whatever, I don’t know enough about their respective games yet. What I do know is that I should not be able to compare them but as of right now they ARE comparable with the edge going to Weircioch statistically and cap hit wise. If Ol’ Gil signed elsewhere I wouldn’t care. I’m actually more than a bit disappointed giving up the more complete game of Lee for him but life goes on.
Carks Shatner (what am I, made of being funny? … you know who isn’t btw William Shatner):
I say resign him if he can be had for a number comparable to his current salary. Does his job well, good guy to have on roster come post-season, can be sat if someone like Borowiecki (who else is looking forward to spelling this out for the foreseeable future?) or whoever earns a call up. Most importantly, keeps us from rushing defensive prospects and if one prospect blows Murray away and earns a full time roster spot I think a lot of teams would be happy to take on Carks even freshly signed.
Alex Auld: Alex was a pleasant student to teach. Good luck in future endeavors!
Heeeeeeeer goes chappies:
1. DaCosta: Sorry, with the exception of Winchester no one has had more ice time with a tattered dance card worth of line mates than La Marsellaise. What would you trade for him? Right, start looking at condos in Bingo
2.Winchester: Probably doesn’t get enough credit for his versatility especially combine that with his toughness and determination to come back from injuries. I think re-signing him almost turns into a mini-tryout, he could be had for cheap and short. Seems like a no-risk, even with a one way deal.
3. Konopka: Those of you who subscribe to my news letter or my point-counter point article where I argue with myself in the latest edition of High Times know I originally loved this signing. I think the person to most benefit from the gradual elimination of fighting from hockey would be Zenon, he seems to fight as a matter of self-preservation, which is weird since I’m sure there are stats to measure the true value of defensive zone face-off wins. Yes he takes a lot of dumb penalties, but he seems like a smart guy, I think he would benefit with a bit of different direction from the coaching staff. I say keep him.
4.Klinkhammer: This is a classic showcase scenario, re-sign him on the cheap with the message that we need to see more, never mind that if other teams end up seeing just as much Bry-Supply Murray will listen to offers. Any youngster that shuttles back and forth from Bingo next year will certainly spend more time in upstate NY, Rob Kirkcameron might be a nice substitute. Resign him to a two way deal.
5.Kuba: No one rags on this guy more than me. To be fair, he’s done some great work this season so I think he deserves his money. It sends a dangerous message to the rest of the guys. Just because you produce doesn’t necessarily mean you get a deal? I dunno, seems like that would be noticed inside the room. It’s very un-dude.
6. Gilroy: Nah, not impressed. Sorry can this spot be used for one of the young guys. One of those swing spots for call ups, let the guys know this spot is open at the outset of camp and watch the guys compete.
7. Carkner: Sorry, this one is a no go for me as well. I’ve long proposed that a top six d man fighting makes zero sense, let your 4th line winger do that. If Carkner is such an asset then having him spend 1/4 of the period in the box throws cold gatorade on any other skill he might have. I like his toughness and think he can be a shutdown guy. I just don’t understand why people rag on Konopka and Carkner gets a pass? (yeah I know penalties, but still)
8.Auld: I swear he packs his gear in a bindle and roams the countryside solving mysteries. Ciao playboy!
“The Sensphere reaaaaaaaaaally gives this guy a hard time for being exactly what he was advertized to be.”
Konopka was not advertised as being:
1)One to take a penalty early in games, often a fighting major, which interrupts the teams’ flow;
2)Someone who relentlessly puts himself ahead of the team by piling on MORE penalties in some self-serving quest for the PiM lead;
3)An individual that would produce a sickening man-crush from Don Brennan, barfitude maximus there.;
4)A loose cannon on the ice.
We don’t need Konopka. It was a terrible, terrible signing aimed at tugging the signatures of dullards that think hiring Ottawa-based or Ottawa-sourced players obviates the need for players that can actually play hockey (see Angry Al and most of Team 1200, Don Brennan, etc. etc.)