Archive for the ‘Alfie’ Category

Five for Smiting on the Ottawa Senators’ upcoming draft

June 22, 2009

For whatever reason, we haven’t been too wise to the Northeast division teams beyond Boston and Buffalo. The general rule is that Canadian teams have legions of fantastic bloggers and the Ottawa Senators hold true to that rule.

Along with being one of the best Senators blogs out there, Five for Smiting also features one of the truly great names in the blogosphere. Senators Lost Cojones‘ work is a bit new to us, but if this post is any indication, Five for Smiting will be receiving heavy Google Reader rotation from now on.

If you have been foolish like us, make up for lost time and pour over Five for Smiting. You won’t regret it.

1. Currently at #9, which prospects do you expect to be in the running for Ottawa? Is there anyone, in particular, you’d prefer?

I’m expecting either Dmitry Kulikov or Ekman-Larsson to be the guy, all in the name of finally snagging that wily and elusive…SING IT WITH ME! TESTIFY!…”puck moving defenceman” all the cool kids are talking about. As you might imagine, after drafting 5′ 10″ Erik Karlsson last year and watching opposing forecheckers pound the living shite out of Filip Kuba for six months, adding yet another No Hit Euro Wunderkind to the backend fills my heart with nothing but sunshine, lollipops, and an irresistible desire to punch myself in the face.

My preference, he over whom I lust (in strictly man-crush fashion Beloved my dear…not that there’s anything wrong with that) is Jared Cowen. 6′ 5″, 218lbs of man meat, just waiting to fill out, and fill in Crosby, Malkin or any other forward brave or stupid enough to go in deep for a puck. If we snag Cowen, I may finally be able take down the shrine to Zdeno Chara in my garage (but I’m keeping the John Muckler Voodoo doll).

Of course, I don’t expect him to be available by the time the nine pick comes around (nor should Brayden Schenn, who I’d love to pick up as a Plan B, if only to piss off Toronto), recent surgery and fears of potentially wonky knees notwithstanding. If only there were some way for Ottawa to somehow move up in the draft, say into the number 5 or 6 spot! Oh, it is but to dream! But however could such a momentous thing come about? How, pray tell, HOW??

2. Obviously there are a ton of rumors swirling around Heatley. How likely is it that he gets moved during the draft? Where do you stand on the issue?

Oh, right … that’s how!

Dany Heatley, whose many likenesses once adorned the walls of my Man Room, means about as much to me now as did the maggot ridden pile of dog feces I scrapped from the bottom of my shoe this morning. A disgusting inconvenience, best disposed of quickly.

Dany has three choices, as far as I can tell. He either a) shoves his “I’ll only play for these guys” list straight up his ass and accepts any trade The Bryan can make, b) fires his agent(s) before holding the mother of all “mea culpa” press conferences in which he announces that he would love to remain an Ottawa Senator for life, terribly sorry, it was all a misunderstanding, I was drunk, etc…OR c) rots for the next six years under suspension, pissing away the prime of his career, all because a coach asked him to back check once in a while. I’m cool with any of those scenarios. Especially “c”.

That said, option “a” is much more likely. And unlike most, I think there’s a better than a fair-to-middling chance it happens before the draft, $4M bonus payment or no. Think about it. If you’re one of the teams sitting ahead of Ottawa in the draft, with the cap room to take on Heater (Hello Los Angeles!), would you hold on to a 5 pick if you can get a back-to-back 50 goal scorer for that pick, a roster player *cough*Kopitar*cough* and a handful of unproven prospects? Or do you wait until after the 1st of July, when The Bryan’s asking price goes up to “I will rape and pillage your farm system because I have to justify the bonus payment”? Phoenix isn’t that deep.

3. Looking back, talk about some of your favorite Ottawa Senators drafting memories. What are some of the team’s best moves? Biggest steals?

Nothing will ever top the absolute sodomizing of Mike Milbury in 2001, of course. For those with a short term and/or repressed memory, that was Alexei Yashin for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the 2 overall that would become Jason Spezza. The laughter in the streets of Ottawa following that trade is second only in volume to the Rangers signing Wade Redden for 6.5 million per last year. And if John Muckler hadn’t completely screwed it up and kept Zee instead of Wade we’d have at least one, if not two, Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters at ScotiaBank Place today. But that’s neither here nor there…or so I tell myself as I soak my pillow in bitter tears…

Biggest steals? That one’s easy. The Captain, Daniel Alfredsson. 6th round, 133rd overall. He is living testament to the days when the Sens had a scouting staff as good as, if not better than the Red Wings at finding future stars toiling in blighted, God forsaken hell holes like Gdansk, or Siberia or Winnipeg.

That’s no longer the case, of course. Just one more thing we can thank Mucks for as he cut the scouting department to the bone while trading away such obviously failed prospects as Pavol Demitra, Brooks Laich, Tim Gleason, Brian Pothier, and Martin Havlat (Sens draft picks all) for the Oleg Saprykins and Tom Preissings of the world. Yeah…good times.

4. On the other hand, Ottawa’s had some low lights too *cough* obviously Daigle *cough*. Talk about some of the darkest/biggest “what if” moments in the Senators’ drafting history.

Hey, hey, HEY! I defy you to find any first overall draft pick that looks better in a nurse’s uniform!

Okay fine, let’s get this out of the way. That ’93 draft included Chris “nobody remembers who went second” Pronger and Paul Karyia. I can deal with that. No, really. Time will heal most wounds.

Then, there was Radek Bonk over Ryan Smyth and Mattias Ohlund in 1994. And let’s not forget ’92 where we not only took Yashin over Darius Kasparaitis, Sergei Gonchar, Cory Stillman and Jason Smith, but also immortalized the phrase “Ottawa apologizes” after GM Rick Dudley tried to draft not one, but two ineligible players ( though still better than the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders who drafted two dead guys…with the same pick).

And of course, most recently, was 2005, where we took Brian Lee ahead of Anzi Kopitar and Marc Staal. The jury is still out on that one (or so a certain blogger tells himself as he rocks himself to sleep at night), but unless Brian puts on about 50 pounds and discovers his inner Scott Stevens between now and training camp, his inexorable slide to the “bust side” of the ledger will continue.

But the one that hurts the most, the single largest “what if” elephant in the Ottawa Senators war room, came in 2002. Ottawa’s first round pick that year was Jakub Klepis, a kid who never played a single game for us, was traded to Buffalo for Vaclav Vrada (Thanks Mucks!) and who spent last year in the KHL, trying desperately to resurrect his career after a drunk driving conviction. The guy who went nine picks later? Cam Ward. Make that pick, and everything changes. Somewhere Martin Prusek, Patrick Lalime, Dominik Hasek, Ray Emery, Martin Gerber, Jeff Glass, Alex Auld and Brian Elliott are laughing their asses off.

Soapbox time:

Feel free to take the floor here. Talk about anything Ottawa/NHL related you’d like.

Oh wow, there are so many things…Crosby and the Cup (quick answer: You got one. Good for you. Now shut the hell up), the atrocious playoff officiating, especially in the Final (Hey look everybody! It’s 1994!) and of course, I could fill pages with Heatley directed bile and derision.

But let’s go with a rather shameful admission on my part. I have been absolutely fascinated with Bettman vs. Balsillie III, more than I should probably admit. It’s like watching a cage match between a garden gnome and the kid who kept getting stuffed into his high school locker.

And the story lines! It’s enough to make a blogger desperate for off-season content weep for joy.

First, there’s the bald-faced and breathtaking hypocrisy of the Commissioner, who assures us that he has ever been the staunch defender of struggling markets like Nashville and Phoenix a decade after signing off on Quebec City to Denver and Winnipeg to…er…Phoenix (neither moves precipitated by “market” problems, I should add). Forget all of the ancillary crap surrounding this mess like whether Moyes had the right to declare bankruptcy in the first place, Balsillie being an idiot for refusing to follow the process, or even the sycophantic trained seals around the Board of Governor’s table golf clapping their way to irrelevance. If you want to know why Gary Bettman is the most hated NHL Commissioner since Lester Patrick north of the border, you need look no further than that.

Which brings me to those well meaning yet misguided souls wandering the desert who managed to turn this into an “Us against Canada” issue, as if we Canucks were using the Make It Seven campaign as some sort of weird War of 1812 on ice (in which we’d STILL totally kick their colonial asses, by the way. I hear Sale and Pelletier are killer with the bayonets). Here’s a news flash for you, Yotes fans. This was never about you. Hell, before this, we didn’t even know you existed. You were but myths and legends, like the Loch Ness Monster, fairies, leprechauns and eskimos.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking the NHL gives a rat’s ass about you either, all of Gary’s pretty words aside. The desert dogs, and by extension, you the fans, were used as much to keep Jimmy Balls out and to set a precedent than to placate the 600 or so tender hearts in the Greater Glendale Area. If Kansas City, and not Hamilton were on the other end of that phone, the moving vans would have headed east a month ago.

But you won! You get to keep your team, and congratulations for that. Now suck it up and prove to everybody that you deserve it.

Tavares Watch 2: Ottawa

February 2, 2009
Editor’s Note: The timing was excellent to start working on this post since Craig Hartsburg was fired, but it’s actually something that was in the “drafts” section since January 13. Oddly enough, work was being done on this during the morning hours … shortly before the Senators coach would be fired. Anyway, just thought it was worth mentioning how sometimes things fall into place every now and then …

In my “Predictions that Will Make Me Look Stupid” post, Ottawa was my pick to win the Northeast division. The only accurate prediction that came true was me looking stupid. (And let’s be honest, that prediction has at least a coin flip’s chance of being accurate every day)

It’s been a really, really, really bad season for the Senators. People will be fired. Players are crying in their oatmeal. Just all around bad times.

Perhaps such a fall from grace was inevitable. The Senators just kept losing vital supporting cast members. Over the last few off-seasons they’ve watched Martin Havlat, Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden and Ray Bug Eating Emery go to other teams in the NHL and Russia. What’s left behind is a wasteland of bad goaltending, thin defense and one line’s worth of stars.

The Senators have a Chara-sized hole they may never fill.
Looking ahead to the off-season, the Senators have one forward, one D and one goaltending spot that’s not accounted for with a cap number slightly above $44 million.

Having the opportunity to draft John Tavares would open the Senators up to some interesting questions.

Would Tavares give the Senators inexpensive yet quality depth on offense, allowing them to throw big money at the closest thing to a legitimate franchise goaltender and/or defenseman?

-OR-

With Tavares falling in their laps, would the Senators begin a purge by trading Jason Spezza like many an Internet rumors column has suggested?

Do the Senators deserve Tavares?

It’s hard to say. Looking at the lower ranking teams in the NHL, the New York Islanders seem to be one of the most deserving. Their fans have suffered heavily since the glory days of Trottier and Bossy. Plus Tavares would help promote the drive to a new arena.

Considering the blundering mess in Tampa Bay, Ottawa certainly isn’t the least worthy team in the Tavares sweepstakes. Overall, it would be great for the league to have as many competitive Canadian teams as possible.

And if the Senators didn’t move one of their expensive star players, just imagine a powerplay of Heatley-Spezza-Tavares with Alf and some incredibly lucky offensive D playing the point. That would just be ridiculous.

Which goalie should they target?

Investing in a goalie should be like getting an HDtv: make sure it’s the one. At least for the next 3-5 years. Let’s see if these goalies would be the right fit in Ottawa:

Nikolai Khabibulin

Absolutely a high-risk, high-reward goaltender. Hopefully, his ridiculous current salary ($6.75 million) will come down a couple million at least. From a highest ceiling standpoint, the one-time Cup winner probably takes the cake. But how much can you trust him when he only seems to reach his potential in contract years?

Niklas Backstrom

With any Wild goalie, it’s a question of nature versus nurture. That being said, previous (and soon to be UFA) Wild goaltenders Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson could never lock down the top job quite as convincingly as Backstrom. Unfortunately for everyone outside of St. Paul, that might mean that the Wild will pay to keep him.

If not he has to be one of the top three targets for any team looking for a starter.

Manny Fernandez

Speaking of Fernandez, it’s likely that Boston will choose to hang on to Tim Thomas but let him go for cap reasons. Just like almost everyone in Boston, Fernandez is putting up some impressive numbers this season. He is 14-3-1 with a 2.07 GAA and a 92.8 save percentage.

The two hounding issues with Fernandez are consistency and health. He’s never really earned an unquestioned no. 1 role. His career high in games started is only 56 games. As a team that’s been burned frequently by inconsistent goaltending, signing Fernandez would most likely allow history to repeat itself.

Martin Biron

Is Martin Biron the answer in net for the Flyers? It’s hard to tell. If he becomes a free agent, he could be a decent option for the Senators. The idea is so bland and uninspiring that it’s crucial to just move on.

Dwayne Roloson

A lot like Biron, but probably a bigger risk/reward. Would not make much sense.

****

So as you can see, there are a few ways the Ottawa Senators could go about improving its team. Could they end up with that Chara-sized Swedish prospect Victor Hedman instead of Tavares? It certainly would be interesting to see the team who lost the big Z end up with the next “big” thing (from a more literal standpoint).


Honestly, things are bad right now but it wouldn’t be shocking if the Senators bounced back next season (or the one after). Even taking into account his turnover-heavy ways, consider me in the Pro-Spezza camp. Dan Heatley might have a dark past, but he’s moved on to become one of the true snipers of the NHL.

The one big name big contract guy they might want to consider moving is Daniel Alfredsson. Alf is a good player despite that ugly Scott Niedermayer incident from the SCF, but he’s old and expensive. He could probably yield a really nice prospect/draft pick package and allow the Senators some fiscal relief.

It might be time for some changes and the rebuilding process might take longer. For that reason, they must at least consider trading their two-way star of a captain.

In these dark times, there’s at least a faint light at the end of the tunnel for the Senators.

All-Decade Team: Wings

January 19, 2009

Jaromir Jagr

(737 points – 301 goals and 436 assists in REG; 62 points – 22 goals, 40 assists in playoffs)Awards: Two Art Ross trophies, two Lester B. Pearson trophies, four time All-Star, three time First-Team All-Star

If you read my treatise on Jagr you already know where I stand. Just to recap: he was a deadly goal scorer with sublime passing skills. Jagr had the strength to shed checkers and the speed to leave the best defensemen in the dust. Simply a Frankenstein monster of offense.

Daniel Alfredsson

(677 points – 265 goals and 412 assists in REG; 61 points – 30 goals, 31 assists in playoffs)

Awards: two-time All-Star

There seems to be two camps regarding “Alf.” On one side, there are the Alfredsson enthusiasts who point to his multi-dimensional and unselfish style of play. Yet on the other side of the fence, there are the people against him who criticize his playoff performances (not to mention the way he acted toward Scott Niedermayer in the SCF).

Whatever way you lean, it’s hard to deny Alfredsson’s impressive body of work. He might not sport the emotional leadership of Iginla or the offensive flashiness of Jagr, but Alfie is one of the best of his era.

Dany Heatley

(512 points – 240 goals and 272 assists in REG; 35 points – 10 goals, 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Calder trophy, First-team All-Star once, two time All-Star

Heatley went from tragedy in Atlanta to an impressive run to the Stanley Cup Finals in a short period of time. Over the last few seasons, he’s established himself as one of the game’s most devastating snipers alongside Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Jarome Iginla

(680 points – 330 goals and 350 assists in REG; 43 points – 24 goals, 19 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Four time All-Star, First team All-Star, two Rocket Richard trophies (one in a three-way tie with Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk, one won outright) Lester B. Pearson trophy

There were a few years in which I advanced this argument: if J.S. Giguere gets a Conn Smythe in a losing effort, then why not Jarome Iginla a year later? Yes, Brad Richards had an amazing playoff run. But Richards was one of three stars in Tampa would could come up with big plays – Iginla carried the Flames offense by himself. All the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Still, that Smythe trophy voting was acceptable … but the way he was robbed of a Hart trophy was atrocious. Despite the fact that Iginla lead the league in scoring with 96 points on an awful Flames team, one voter left him off the ballot altogether. This move allowed one year wonder in Jose Theodore to win the MVP and raised legitimate questions of racism.

Beyond all that, Iginla’s had a borderline HOF decade. Only Jaromir Jagr beats him in points among wingers. Plus, “Jarmoe” brought more to the table than a wicked wrister. He’s been the ultimate leader: combining clutch scoring, toughness and a willingness to drop the gloves if need be.

Naturally, dropping the gloves forced him to miss some games and might hurt his standing with some voters.

Martin St. Louis

(547 points – 224 goals and 323 assists in REG; 48 points – 23 goals, 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four-time All-Star, first team All-Star once, one Art Ross, Pearson and Hart trophy

It doesn’t get much more Disney than the story of Martin St. Louis. He went from being an unwanted, undrafted free agent to becoming the league’s MVP and a Stanley Cup champion. If ESPN’s bitter hatred had not been at an all-time high at that point, his would have been one of the sport stories of the year.

Marian Hossa

(662 points – 306 goals and 356 assists in REG; 59 points – 25 goals, 34 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four-time All-Star

Though they were unable to keep him in Atlanta, getting Hossa for Heatley might qualify as the only time “Thrashers GM Don Waddell” and “impressive job” could be mentioned in the same sentence without words like “completely un-” because Hossa might be Heater’s equal. His defensive skills make up for a slight loss in pizazz.

Nearly half of Hossa’s playoff output came last year during the Penguins run to the SCF. That performance showed what Hossa is capable of with a top-end center.

Markus Naslund

(640 points – 286 goals and 354 assists in REG; 30 points – 12 goals, 18 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four All-Star games, Pearson award, three time First-Team All-Star

Recent years haven’t been too kind to the Swedish sniper, but Naslund was one of the true elite forwards in the NHL during his peak years in the early part of the decade.

Brendan Shanahan

(539 points – 256 goals and 283 assists in REG; 50 points – 22 goals, 28 assists in playoffs)

Awards: three All-Star games, one time First-Team All-Star

Most of Shanahan’s best years came before the decade started, but he still put up some very nice power forward numbers. Being on three Stanley Cup winners with Detroit cannot hurt either (although two of those Cups came before the time period in question)

Not enough yet: Alex Ovechkin (if the lockout didn’t happen he might be close enough), Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash