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.