Yes, Ottawa should definitely upgrade at the deadline
Ok, look: I hear you, people. I hear the people who say we shouldn’t sacrifice the future for the present. The people who say we already don’t have a first round pick, so why would you give up even more when we’re hovering around a 40% chance to make the playoffs? These are all perfectly reasonable and valid opinions. They’re just incorrect.
The thing about this season, which might not be the case next season, is that the East is wide open. There isn’t a team outside of Boston or Pittsburg that I don’t think Ottawa could beat in a seven-game series. And even with Ottawa likely having to play Boston or Pittsburg, that’s not like, an inconceivable upset.
Ottawa has the 10th best offense in the league, and that’s with their best offensive player, Jason Spezza, playing with either Colin Greening, Eric Condra, or an out-of-position Mika Zibanejad. Sure, they’ve allowed more goals than all but four other teams in the league, but with Anderson’s numbers trending the right way, Lehner ready and willing to usurp Anderson’s role, Cody Ceci providing much needed depth, and oodles of cap room to improve, I think Ottawa can still make some noise in the playoffs.
And if they trade a 2nd round pick or some prospects and it doesn’t work out, are you really telling me our window is going to slam shut because we no longer have Mike Hoffman in our system? Depth is important, but outside of Curtis Lazar, Ottawa doesn’t even really have a prospect that isn’t already on the roster who might be considered a blue chipper. Upgrading is likely a matter of a low pick in a weak draft or mid-tier prospects going out in exchange for short term rentals and long-shots. It’s reshuffling the deck. Why wouldn’t you do it?
It’s not like Matt Moulson is going to instantly turn Ottawa into a contender. But this is the year when truly anything can happen in the NHL playoffs. If a rental helps us win that one extra game it will take to make it into the playoffs, I’m all for it, even if it ends in a glorious slaughter at the hands of the Penguins. (Again.)
Seriously though: Trade for Daniel Alfredsson
I mentioned this briefly in my post about who Ottawa should target at the deadline, so you can read my reasoning there. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, though it should perhaps be revisited today considering:
How incredible would that homecoming be?
Sub-question: do you give him an A?
Ottawa’s new television deal
It’s been reported that between their annual payout from Bell of around $33.3 million, and the invasion fees and royalties paid as part of the new national package with Rogers, which are estimated at about $10 million for each Canadian franchise, you see Ottawa’s revenue for television going from about $7 million to $43 million.
This seems like a good a time as any to link back to the article I wrote on economics in the NHL. If this decreases Melnyk’s operational losses in the short term, and the franchise continues to increase in underlying value to the tune of 4%-7% year-over-year (not totally out of the question when you consider it generated this new TV deal and there’s nowhere to go but up), then we should absolutely, positively, not give a moment’s notice or modicum of respect if Melnyk cries poor when it comes time for a new arena.
This is a big step in the history of the franchise—the biggest, according to Leeder and Melnyk himself—and it’s wonderful to see. (Also, no more Sportsnet broadcasts, with their tinny audio and strange color correction and Nick Kypreos.) But if Melnyk insists that the franchise, after all of this, is still revenue neutral at best, then the traditional media needs to start paying better attention to the rising underlying value of his investment and calling him out on it. When Melnyk finally does sell, it will make him hundreds of millions of dollars. More than enough to make up for what I’d much rather call short term ‘investments’ than ‘losses.’
What does Ottawa’s next goaltending deal look like?
News that Semyon Varlamov signed for close to $6 million in Colorado confirms that the new price point for a starting goaltender is going to be: ridiculous. Crawford, Rask, and Varlamov all got about $6 million. Lundqvuist got north of $8 million. Steve Mason, who’s terrible, got north of $4 million. Tim Thomas, who is old and didn’t even play in the league last year, got $2.5 million fer Chrissake.
All of this makes Anderson’s $3.2 million look very reasonable—bum season or no. But it also raises the question of how much you pay Lehner, considering his very solid numbers and readiness to be a starter. If you figure that Cowen, who had less than 100 games at the time of his extension, got over $3 million per based on potential alone, then what do you pay your more experienced goalie of the future? It’s not unreasonable to see Ottawa spending close to $6 million between their two goaltenders, and soon.