Archive for the ‘Ottawa Senators’ Category

Northeast Division Roundup

November 11, 2009

Greetings, hockey fans. This is Meaghan from the illustrious (humour me) Ottawa Senators blog known as Sens at Land’s End with the first of what should be many whirlwind tours of blogs covering the NHL’s Northeast Division.

Without further ado:

Let’s begin with one of the teams furthest from my heart, the Montreal Canadiens. Topham over at Habs blog Lions in Winter has thoughtfully taken on the now infamous Allan Walsh-Jaroslav Halak vs. Carey Price Twitter incident in a post puntastically titled “The Price of Being a Twit.”

Over in the Barilkosphere, Down Goes Brown claims to have revealed the NHL’s top secret flow chart for handing out suspensions. I’m not sure I believe the document posted is authentic, but it seems quite accurate. (This isn’t strictly speaking a story about the Leafs, but I imagine a team that truculent will at some point encounter Colin Campbell and his magical wheel of justice.)

With the Sens being the best the most interesting my favourite team in the league, I was able to find a huge amount of fascinating, high quality material about them. It was hard for me to narrow it down to just one story to post here, but in the end I thought The 6th Sens’ piece about the potential ripple effects of the Steve Yzerman to Ottawa trade that never happened was the most timely, with Yzerman’s well-deserved induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame having taken place on Monday.

Most Bruins blogs appear to be focused on happy things this week. David Krejci has recovered from the dreaded swine flu, and everyone is generally feeling joyful because the Bruins have won their last two games and may finally be getting on track. However, According to Cameron Frye uncovers the darker side of Boston, making the disturbing discovery that Patrice Bergeron may have been replaced by his evil twin.

Finally, the entire Buffalo Sabres blogosphere is evidently too shocked over the fact that Adam Mair was placed on waivers this week to write about much else.

And that’s what’s what in the Northeast this week. If you have any suggestions for posts I might link to in next week’s roundup, shoot me an email at sensatlandsend [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know. I’m sure there are tons of worthy blogs I’m not aware of, and I’d appreciate any tips pointing me in the direction of great material.

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The Sore Thumb: Ottawa Senators

October 12, 2009


If there’s one thing the hockey blogosphere can teach you, it’s that team success and blog quality aren’t necessarily connected. A great example of that is Sens at Land’s End. While the Senators could face some tough times, SaLE is one of our favorite Ottawa blogs, so make sure you follow it like a blind Jason Spezza drop pass.


All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

Some might ask what isn’t an issue for the Sens this year, and those people might not be wrong. What worries me most, though, is the defense. Behind three usually reliable veterans – stay-at-homers Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov and puckmover Filip Kuba – play three young “mobile” defenders – Chris Campoli, rookie Erik Karlsson, and Alexandre Picard (who started the season in the pressbox). These guys may be great someday, but right now they’re prone to brain cramps that will definitely give Pascal Leclaire a workout. I would feel better if the defensive pairings were more balanced; however, the Senators have always shown an inexplicable unwillingness to split up the shutdown duo of Phillips and Volchenkov. This makes the second and third pairings a bit, well, scary. The more physical presence of Matt Carkner may help to an extent, but he’s been a career-AHLer until now and who knows how he’ll fare during a full season at the NHL level. To all these problems add the fact that Volchenkov and Kuba (already injured, by the way) both missed over 10 games last season and the picture becomes even less pretty.

Five for Smiting threatens Murray with goat urine, er, shares Senators related free agency fears

July 1, 2009

We first introduced ourselves to Senators Lost Cojones aka the founder of Five for Smiting a week ago with our draft special and are happy to have ’em back for a second contribution in as many weeks. Make sure to follow this funny, insightful Ottawa blog even if Dany Heatley won’t waive his No Trade C(ause he’s a jerk clause).

1. Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Marian Gaborik. If Alexei Yashin and Drew Rosenhaus ever conceived a bastard love child, that’s what it would look like. I’m sorry to have to be the one to break this to Bryan Murray, but our quota of butter soft, injury prone, over rated Euro trash has been filled, thank you very much. His baffling, nauseating…Nay! Infuriating!!…contract extension to Filip Kuba made sure of that. If Gaborik somehow slithers his way into the Senators line up, I swear by all that is good and right in this world, I will soak my most prized possession (vintage 1993, #13 Jamie Baker jersey) in the urine of a thousand goats and burn it on The Bryan’s desk. GOATS BRYAN!! YA HEARD ME!! Honest to God GOATS!!

2. Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

The Maple Leafs somehow pulling Jay Bouwmeester out of Darryl Sutter’s ass. I’ll let them have the Sedins. After all, that poor, misguided, delusional and obviously drunk diaspora known as Leaf Nation hasn’t had an overpaid forward to hail as the second coming of Darryl Sittler and then spend the next six months bitching about since the Antropov trade. But J-Bo… I’m not at all comfortable with the possibility of Laugh fans finally discovering what Real NHL Talent looks like. They may develop a taste for it.

Then again, once Larry Tanenbaum and his Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hench-yokels discover how deeply Real NHL Talent will cut into their profit margin, I’m sure they’ll nix any deal Burke can make, lest he anger his pension fund gods. Then he’ll double season ticket prices to appease them…and just because he can.

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.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Northeast division

March 10, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Pacific division:

Real Life: Montreal Canadiens do nothing (except for, of course, the firing of Guy Carbonneau)

HF29 of Four Habs Fans said:

“If I were Bob Gainey, I’d stick my finger up my ass and not do anything. We are not in a position to win a cup with the addition of a rent-a-player, we are about to lose half our team to free agency this summer, and we can’t dump all our great prospects who will be replacing the UFA’s. So I’d go find a beach that has no Blackberry service.”

No reports available regarding digital penetration, but Gainey mentioned that he canceled his trip to Florida once he realized that his coach’s execution was imminent. So Four Habs Fans nailed this one pretty impressively.

Real Life: Ottawa Senators trade Antoine Vermette for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick
Dany Heatley Speedwagon from Scarlett Ice said:

“If I were the Sens GM right now… I’d start filling out job applications.”

DHS might be more right than we can know. That being said, getting Leclaire might be worth the risk but the second round pick makes the move more salvageable. So much for the Sens becoming less of a big salary no depth team, though.

Real Life: Boston Bruins trade three prospects in two trades that brought in Steve Montador, Mark Recchi and a second round pick

Evan from Stanley Coup of Chowder rightly predicted that Manny Fernandez would not be moved and the Bruins would not trade for Erik Cole or Keith Tkachuk. He didn’t predict the mid-level moves, but let’s just say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Real Life: Buffalo Sabres shuffle second round picks, move Ales Kotalik and acquire Mikael Tellqvist to give Patrick Lalime a backup while Ryan Miller heals up.

Vance from Bangin’ Panger said:

“1. Trade Maxim Afinogenov for anything…anything at all. At this point, I would accept “Future Considerations.”

2. Trade Nate Gerbe, Drew Stafford, & a 1st for Olli Jokinen, Derek Morris, and a 3rd. Oh wait, that’s too serious.

3. Sign Tim Connolly. Then in turn, announce that the “Future Considerations” is in fact the purchase of a Chinese facility which genetically engineers single body parts for the recently signed Tim Connolly. Win – Win situation.”

This trade rumor mongering is too much for me, Let’s leave it to the experts…like Eklund.”

The Sabres could not find a bag of pucks for Afinogenov and didn’t make a big splash trade, but they did sign Connolly to a contract extension. One of our three … isn’t awful? This is why I’m not the next “Weird Al” Yankovic. Though I do love puns.

Real Life: Brian Burke makes very few changes with the Maple Leafs, except for that wacky trade that brought in Olaf Kolzig. The one “real” trade was Nik Antropovto the New York Rangers for a second rounder and a 2010 conditional pick.

While Loser Domi of Pension Plan Puppets spoke of boozing, while Bitter Leafs Fan said the Leafs should have a fire sale.

Just about everyone was fooled by crazy old Burkie’s “move” but few were surprised by the Antropov trade.

If you were the GM (Northeast division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Montreal Canadiens

HF29 of Four Habs Fans

(submitted: March 2)

“If I were Bob Gainey, I’d stick my finger up my ass and not do anything. We are not in a position to win a cup with the addition of a rent-a-player, we are about to lose half our team to free agency this summer, and we can’t dump all our great prospects who will be replacing the UFA’s. So I’d go find a beach that has no Blackberry service.”

Chris Kontos: This is the easiest move for any NHL GM to make. Suspend the entire team for 2 games. They’ll come back and the team will go undefeated into the playoffs.

James O’Brien: It almost seems like the Habs are in a comfortably uncomfortable spot. They’re not the not new thing this year. But it still looks like they should make the playoffs. The obvious move is simply to stay put. They traded for Mathieu Schneider. That should be good again.

Let that whole scandal “blow” over. Ha ha. Ho Ho. *wipes tear*

***

Ottawa Senators
Dany Heatley Speedwagon from Scarlett Ice.
(March 1)

If I were the Sens GM right now… I’d start filling out job applications.

Chris Kontos: If laughing at the misfortunes of Bryan Murray is wrong… then I never want to be right.

James O’Brien: You know, Jay Bouwmeester for Jason Spezza might just be idiotic enough to not work for both parties. So maybe, give that 10-1 odds? (I mean, if you trade a first-rounder for Chris Campoli and Mr. Hillary Duff, why start making sense?)

***

Boston Bruins
Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder
(2/24)

Manny Fernandez:

Chiarelli has indicated that Manny won’t be moved, which I think is the right move. I’m a lot more comfortable with the Bruins having two veteran goaltenders heading into the playoffs. We have seen so many goalies get injured around the league this year, so depth at the goaltending position is always a plus. Some B’s fans have lobbied for Fernandez to get traded and promote Tuukka Rask to be the backup, but I don’t see how having Rask rot on the bench while the Bruins take on his $3.2 million cap number for a few months helps him or the organization.

Cole or Tkachuk?

Neither. I think both of those guys will cost the Bruins too much, both in terms of player assets and the cap hit. The B’s want to keep as much of the current big league roster in place and I’m not sure they could do that and still bring in either of these guys. I’m not sure Cole is the answer for the Bruins. He was struggled out in Edmonton this season and appears to be in the decline stage of his career at only the age of 30. As for Tkachuk, a return to his hometown would make a great story and all but I’m not sure it is the best move for the Bruins. I would rather see them make one or two smaller deals. Ideally one for a big winger with a left-hand shot and one for a puck-moving defenseman. The more I look into Nik Antropov, the more I like him as an option. I think he has a lot of what the Bruins are looking to add at the deadline. Someone like Jordan Leopold would also be a nice addition to the Bruins blue line.

Chris Kontos:Tkachuk to the Bruins would be a major get. But I don’t think the Blues are giving up Uncle Walt. The Bruins are a fantastic team, I would keep both goalies and look forward to battling Washington in the semi-finals.

James O’Brien: If the Bruins can make a Chris Pronger deal work, then do it. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Bruins to make a Stanley Cup run and let’s face it: there’s going to be a bit of a drop off since it would be hard to keep David Krejci, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez under the cap next year.

Somehow, if the B’s were the team with the two biggest meanest D in the league … they would probably be OK. Do it!

***

Buffalo Sabres

Vance from Bangin’ Panger
(Mar. 2)

1. Trade Maxim Afinogenov for anything…anything at all. At this point, I would accept “Future Considerations.”

2. Trade Nate Gerbe, Drew Stafford, & a 1st for Olli Jokinen, Derek Morris, and a 3rd. Oh wait, that’s too serious.

3. Sign Tim Connolly. Then in turn, announce that the “Future Considerations” is in fact the purchase of a Chinese facility which genetically engineers single body parts for the recently signed Tim Connolly. Win – Win situation.

This trade rumor mongering is too much for me, Let’s leave it to the experts…like Eklund

Chris Kontos: Sign Tim Connolly and then put him in a plastic bubble to be worn at all times, especially on the ice. This is the same Buffalo team we’ve seen for the last few years except for one. They are going to do anything to change it.

James O’Brien: Something needs to happen to the city of Buffalo, already. They had such a great run but of course … it’s Buffalo. Heart break was inevitable. Here’s a dream scenario that would restore some harmony to the universe:

Flyers put Danny Briere on waivers. Briere comes back up and is claimed by the Sabres. The Sabres get one half of their likable-before-their-idiotic-contracts duo at what Briere should make in a season. (Half of what he’s making now, you see.) Make it happen, universe.

***

Toronto Maple Leafs

Loser Domi from Pension Plan Puppets
(2/27)

If I were the Toronto GM, stock in vodka would go through the roof. You may also find me passed out in the sewer (like a boss).

From Bitter Leaf Fan
(3/03)

Under the current CBA, it strikes me that teams have a limited window to compete before increasing player compensation makes it a challenge for teams to hold on to the requisite pieces to remain among the elite (Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa have all had to shed key parts in order to retain their top tier players).

If I was Brian Burke, pretty much the entire Leafs roster would be for sale. In return I’d put an emphasis on getting back prospects over picks. Prospects are a bit more of a known quantity, are further along in their development and therefore closer to stepping up to the NHL.

The Leafs have a very small nucleus (of sadly moderate talent) to build around: Schenn (’89), Tlusty (’88), Stralman (’86), Pogge (’86) and Mitchell (’85), Grabovski (’84). It’s this sad sack lot that the Leafs need to build around by acquiring more players born between 1986 to ’89. Players who are still three or four years removed from RFA status and five or six or so from UFA status.

By building around cost-controlled, younger players the Leafs can hopefully dip into the UFA pool in a few years when they’re competitive again (fingers crossed) for a star or two to help push them over the top.

Chris Kontos: Guaranteed, Brian Burke turns this franchise around in a season and half. I saw it with my own eyes across town. I hate you Brian Burke. He will pounce on any other GM who is willing to overpay in the slightest… and then get him to overpay even more. This is a man who found a way to get rid of Fedorov and that horrible contract.

James O’Brien: Getting out of that Fedorov contract was quite masterful, indeed. If Tomas Kaberle, Nik Antropov and any plus-$3 million isn’t in danger of being moved, then check Burke’s pulse.

Although I will say: Kaberle’s contract is a steal. (Also: there is not a single Burke photo that fails to make me laugh. That’s pretty impressive)

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.