I’m going to start this off by saying that one of the most annoying things I find about Bryan Murray is what he says to the press leading up to events like the Entry Draft. “We’re looking to move up if we can”, “we’d be willing to move down if the right offer is made”, “we are open to dealing prospects or established players if it would help us”, “we will stand pat if nothing worthwhile comes our way” all culminating in the king of the irritating lines that he says, “we’re willing to do some things, if we can.” UUURRRGGHH “Do some things” thanks for the HOTTT Insiderr Info, bro.
In the weeks leading up to the event in question, he basically says he’s willing to do just about anything, which, hey, he might. I also understand he’s not looking to tip his hand on national television let alone to some local tabloid hack with so much grey neck hair and a Hawaiian shirt who writes four or five 200 word articles about the Senators per day.
Still, it’s the same thing every year. “Bryan Murray looking to add top six scoring help IF HE CAN.” Hey, we’re all sensitive people looking to find a ten dollar bill in the pocket of our jeans we’re about to throw in the washing machine IF WE CAN. The truth is the last time Bry Bry added legit high end scoring talent that stuck around longer than the period between the trade deadline and Ottawa’s customary first round playoff exit was Milan Michalek who was acquired in The Great Dany Heatley Blizzard of ’09 (musing: Pretty nuts that a former 50 goal scorer going each way turned out to be a sour part of the deal on both ends!).
With Alfredsson confirming his return on Friday, it made me ask two questions, “Does Ottawa actually need top 6 scoring help now?” and “Does Ottawa actually need to trade valuable assets to move up in the draft now?”
Sure neither of those things would hurt but they would certainly cost a truck load in terms of the incredible drafting we’ve been praising the organization for the past few seasons. Especially when prices are so inflated on draft day. I personally couldn’t get over how nearly every armchair GM’s trade package to move up in the draft included Mika Zibanejad. WHAT!? Ottawa has such a shitty season that they acquired a lottery pick and blew up the team for more picks culminating in what was the most exciting draft day in Senators history since Alexandre Daigle was acquired (What? that WAS really fucking exciting when it happened) picking 3 times in round one with Mika as crown jewel. He’s tossed into the NHL this year and what do we see? He’s strong as a bull, a fast skater, plays defense well, is creative with the puck and has scoring touch. What should we do? Oh, DEFINITELY get rid of him (AND OTHER STUFF) for a draft pick. Why? Because something something Kyle Turris. Oy. Vey.
Yes, the Senators had a lot of trouble scoring goals this year. Wouldn’t one assume so when 3 of the team’s highest scorers missed practically the entire season?
The way I look at it is this: The team had an unrealistically healthy season where they surprised everyone and made the playoffs. They followed that season with an unrealistically unhealthy one and on the back of tremendous goaltending and great coaching not only finished HIGHER in the standings but went deeper in the playoffs too! In the process they learned that both Zibanejad and Silfverberg can indeed play in the NHL, Marc Methot was an excellent acquisition, Lehner is ready for the bigs and Patrick Wiercioch can put up points from the blue line. That’s without mentioning that Murray already just added scoring talent in Cory Conacher and that the team might have what scientists call “a serious motherfucker” on their hands in Jean Gabriel Pageau.
Was last season perfect? Absolutely not. In fact but that’s my exact point as to why we should be patient. I saw stuff like Turris finally getting bumped down to the second line and immediately start tearing it up, Karlsson put up 8 points in 10 playoff games on one foot, and, again, JGP. In one statement: I want to see what the magic of two seasons ago plus the magic of last season looks like before making a drastic move.
But what about Sergei Gonchar?
To me this is the most pressing question but there’s a catch: I think Sergei did a great job stepping up during desperate times. Did he do the irreplaceable job that a lot of people think he did? Not a goddamn chance. Gonchar did a lot better in Ottawa than he’ll probably get credit for in the long run. That said, letting the THIRTY NINE year old defenseman walk for the foolish 2 year contract he got (good for him btw!) from Dallas was as smart as letting Kuba go for the stupid deal he got. I didn’t lose sleep over Kuba walking and I wont over Gonchar.
The sense I get is that many are as high on Gonchar right now as they are low on Cowen. Yeah, Cowen looked terrible against Pittsburgh but I don’t really put a lot of stock in that meaning he’s a terrible player now. And just because Wiercioch didnt play as many minutes or against as high of competition as Gonchar did doesnt mean he cant take on increased responsibility this coming season.
The most unappreciated story coming off this season is how Chris Phillips had his best performance in years. Do I think the D would benefit from an additional top 4 guy? Most teams would. I’m just willing to see what the current corps (remember Karlsson will be much healthier by October) can do before panicking.
We still haven’t seen what Ottawa Senators Proper looks like yet. There’s still a ton of untested depth in Noesen, Puempel, Ceci and Prince. There’s also intriguing fringe guys kicking around in Stone, Borowikipedia and Hoffman. If prices are stupidly steep right now I’d be perfectly fine with Murray to let these guys play and see what the actual holes are in the lineup instead of filling them based on a truly unlucky (yet quite successful) year. Especially if it means paying with the team’s future.
But there has to be something in between, right? I agree that trading Zibanejad doesn’t make much sense. Likewise, any GM who tried to basically mug Murray by asking for Karlsson or Cowen or whoever should be dunked in the canal. But I really do hope that Murray isn’t having to pass on more palatable trades because of budget. If it’s true that Ottawa has an internal budget of $50MM, and it’s already at $43MM without having signed Alfie and its RFAs, that means that it heads into this season without availing itself of a pretty rare opportunity to get better while its divisional opponents (mostly) get weaker. I wouldn’t part with Zibby, but a couple of prospects and that 17th over all pick I could have lived with sending elsewhere.
See but this is what I’m talking about. You’re saying you’re not willing to part with our very best young assets but you’d be fine with making a package of lesser prospects etc. I have a feeling you and Murray feel the same way. When he said prices at the draft we’re “insane” I have to pat the guy on the back for staying where he’s at and not giving key prospects and young guns up. It’s not like Murray is afraid to deal quality. People are only now unclinching their buttholes from him trading Rundblad and a 2nd for Turris.
Maybe I feel this way because I don’t quite think Ottawa is the team with a huge window of opportunity on it’s hands that I keep reading people talking about it as. I still think the team’s a few years away and with the team on a budget progress will continue to be made by internal development. It would be great to go all in and “win one for the captain” but I actually don’t think it’s the smartest strategy considering this wont be the as cheap a team in a few years when a bunch of those ELCs start expiring. I also dont think this team gets significantly better because they trade for Ales Hemsky or whatever.
If this past season’s taught me anything is that this is a pretty special group that requires a steady hand before a big decision is made. Pretty much no one believed that Marc Methot could handle first pairing duties and he turned out to be aside from Anderson Ottawa’s most consistent player. I think the same chance should be given to seeing if MacLean can find a way to replace Gonchar’s minutes. I think of him like Foligno. A valuable player but I believe the team can carry on okay without him.
In short, the past two seasons have been a total joy to watch though the rebuild has been pleasantly quick with a bunch of kids who haven’t even played so much as an exhibition game it’s not near finished. I mean, we were nearly swept by the Penguins, I dont think one trade is going to make a sea change. Waiting is a drag but we likely have to continue to lay low and grow all the while under budget. Luckily the organization is deft enough to seem to be able to do this.
Well, the window is here only because 1) one last year of Alfie, Phillips, and Michalek, 2) one last year with those RFAs on affordable deals, two for Zibanejad 3) two more years of Spezza, Methot, and Anderson. It’s true that the young guns will only get better, but those vets are on their way out soon. This is that rare confluence of young and old. Ottawa’s not a favorite by any means, but I could see them putting together something special next season, if they’re willing to spend a little. In 2015, the torch is officially passed to Silfverberg, Zibanejad, Cowen, et al.
You’re right, of course – if there’s nothing reasonable on the table, then nobody is advocating for making the unreasonable deal. But I’d make that rumored Zack Smith for Hemsky any day of the week, and if the only reason it isn’t happening (which of course I’m only speculating) is money, then that’s a shame, because Ottawa is in a good place for a team and already spends less than all but two other teams in the league.
I think people seem in a rage on the Sensphere and I’m kind of taking it out on you. I guess what I was trying to say here was that if prices were indeed “insane” I’m just glad he didn’t make a rash move. I’m not saying it’s you, but I get the impression that the success in the rebuild (which has been pretty modest modest, 7th and 8th finishes, 3 playoff rounds) has really amped fans up and many want to see Murray do something huge. If I’ve learned anything, 9 times out of 10 “Doing something huge” in the NHL is “Doing something fucking insane” like signing Ilya Kovalchuk until the year 2025 or giving Vincent Lecavalier a contract that puts you back over the cap ceiling because something something why would you do that when you already have Claude Giroux? Just stuff that’s dumb in a salary cap league.
Anyway, Smith for Hemsky trade I’m all for too. That’s such a reasonable trade that I’ll nearly believe it’s more than a rumor when I see it. I’d miss Smith but we need a Hemsky more than a Smith right now. The other thing too is that just because that deal didnt happen on draft day doesnt mean it wont. Still a lot of off season to go. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m against trades. I think that Rundblad/2nd for Turris was essential in saving the team’s season.
Back to the window stuff. I hear what you’re saying for sure. The combination is good right now. I just wonder if Murray and Co. have a longer term plan. Like if the Sens are going to really do something, they are going to have to do it more or less with the same squad they’ve had the last couple years give or take a few parts and are saving the “all in” big leap for a few years down the road when even more of the prospects are in the lineup and more of the vets, sad as it is, have hit the trails. I don’t know really. I’m just a caveman.
PS. Speaking of windows, Keep hearing rumors Alfie deal will be 2 years!