Saturday, June 27, 2009

But at least I don't have to eat my Heatley jersey

Earlier this week, I made three predictions to occur before the end of June. I said Heatley would be traded, Neil would be re-signed, and Murray would trade up in the draft. Talk about a hat trick. After one day, I am retiring from the guarantee business, although it is more of a dishonourable discharge, eh? My last statement was that if Heaters was traded to the Kings, I'd eat my jersey. Luckily, it was reported that "LA has withdrawn from the Heatley sweeps". This is code for, they were never interested in Murray's demand for Brown et al. But give me credit for one thing - I made a prediction, it didn't happen, and I've owned up to it. Imagine if all bloggers did that?

Moving on, I'm still holding out hope that a strong offer comes together. I'm just not as confident considering the draft was a great place for talks. There are still teams that could really use a player like Heatley. One interesting note from Booboo was that "Murray was disgusted by the Rangers offer of Roszival and Zherdev". If that was the offer, then yeah, Heatley will be around for a bit.

From another angle, perhaps we resolve ourselves to preparing for another season of the pizza line! I'm reading a lot of comments from people suggesting that he can play well and drive up his value at the deadline. My question is, what's to say things haven't changed between Heatley, Clouston, the rest of the team, and the fans by then? Kobe asks for a trade out of LA often, but he changed his attitude and they just won a championship. Last week, I wrote a piece about how we handle another season of Heaters. Long story short, a reconciliation is definitely possible. These guys are professionals and on the ice, they'll take care of business. If Murray can't execute his trade, then it isn't at all out of the question that he actually plays out this contract's remaining five years. Let's just hope that if he stays, then Clouston becomes hockey's Master of Zen.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Your Jared Cowen Primer

Here's some tidbits about our newest defenceman, Jared Cowen. I'll admit that I wanted Kadri as I think we need a centre, but when Burkie took him and we were down to Cowen, MSP, and Kulikov, I'm thrilled we kept it Canadian. Cowen will be a great balance for this team for Karlsson and if Lee is still around. But make no mistake - this kid is ugly.

Name: Jared Cowen
Position: D
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-5
Weight: 218 lbs
Birthdate: 1991-01-25
Eligible for Draft: 2009
Drafted: 2009
Hometown: Allan, Saskatchewan
Acquired: 1st round (9th overall), 2009 by OTT
Playing In: CHL

There have been comparisons to Braydon Coburn and Adam Foote - both guys aren't highlight reel players but are solid, tough defencemen. If Cowen can become a Foote, then we've made a great pick here. In all likelihood, he'll be fine coming out of knee surgery (done on 2/18/09) and we picked a player that wasn't necessarily supposed to be on the board at 9th. Recovery for him and the extent of the injury is said to be 5-6 months. He also appears to be a great person, hard working and focused on the recovery, and excited about playing in Canada. I love players like that! Check out the sound bytes in the second clip, too. Just sounds like a good dude, prairie boy that wants to work his ass off and get to the bigs.

Live posts - smoke 'em if you got 'em

(10:20) Alright, this will be it for posts until the Jared Cowen profile later tonight. The Pronger trade was the only trade of significance, other than small movements in draft order. Let's hope that Brennan can have a convo with BM tonight. I'm curious as to what was out there and where we go from here. Sure, we can trade him on July 2nd, but that handcuffs us on the 1st with free agents. I still have to think this 'he'll play for us in the fall' is all bluff. Right?

(9:15) slats and murray talking again but dreger says murray returned to the sens table and shook his head no.

(8:57) Edmonton keeps their pick, Minnesota trades down. Both are suitors for Heatley.

(8:25) Murray on stage with the crew. Please let it be Cowen. Done deal - Jared Cowen!

(8:20) so Burke takes Kadri as Murray says, yeah that's the guy we want. Glennie to Dallas is great as it let's us pick Cowen. I'm not anti-Euro, but I want a Canadian this year. Kulikov and MSP still out there, as well. And Dreger says Murray told him no trades, nothing serious. Apparently our price is still too high - 3 good players.

(7:48) top four are as planned, duchesne to avs, kane to atl

(7:28) As planned, tavares first and hedman second. Will Colorado keep that 3rd pick.

(7:25) pronger for sbisa, lupul, and back to back first rounders. Wow!

(7:10) Tavares will go first. You can just tell in his demeanour that Garth told him already.

(7:00) Pronger to Philly.

(6:56) Dreger from Murray:no trade for Heatley. BM used the word 'dead'.

(6:46) Bolland re-signs in Chicago for 5 yrs, $18M. Saw his name in a Heatley rumour. At this point if you're an NHLer and have NOT been linked to Heatley, is that an insult?

(6:30) Niedermeyer supposedly re-signing in Anaheim, which will fuel the Pronger rumours, and the Kaberle/ Kessel trade is not even close. Apparently, they each thought they were getting the other team's pick. Oops.

(6:25) Master insider Bob McKenzie just said on the nhl network: "I don't think Dany Heatley will be traded tonight. I would be surprised if it happens.". Screw you, Bob.

(6:13) Burkie has already gone public with his attempts to trade up in tonight's draft. But don't be shocked if Murray finds a way to move up, as well. As Tim Murray said, they're about quality, not quantity in the draft. If they have to give up one of those two second rounders to slide up a couple of spots, don't fall out of your chair.

3 Draft Day Scenarios for the top 3

Sit back while we blow your mind:

Scenario One:
1. NY Islanders take Tavares, getting a face for the franchise
2. Tampa changes their shorts and gets Hedman, the one they wanted.
3. Colorado, already determined to pass the torch from Sakic to Stastny, is luke warm on Duchesne and start to whore it out to the highest bidder. The Avs can get some nice, warm bodies in exchange for dropping down a few spots to 5, 6, etc. I wonder if they can find a way to peddle the 3rd overall plus Smyth for a younger, cheaper impact player plus a pick a few spots down...I just think that knowing how popular Duchesne has become, Colorado could drop down a few spots and clean up their payroll at the same time and still get a solid player.

Scenario Two:

1. NY Islanders take Hedman, confusing the Isles 10,000+ draft party attendees as to why he spells his name with a K.
2. Tampa freaks out because they need a d-man, not Tavares or Duchesne. They immediately trade down a few spots in a great move. They can basically drop to as low as 6th or 7th where they can pick up Cowan. By dropping those spots, they can rob another team of a top player. Toronto comes to mind. If you're Tampa, do you take Hedman, or do you swap picks with Toronto (7th) and take Kaberle and Cowan?
3. Colorado is in the same spot with Duchesne on the table.

Scenario Three:
1. NY Islanders take Duchesne, the Nassau Coliseum is burnt to the ground with Tavares jerseys used as kindling. Don't laugh, there is talk of Duchesne being the man here, and think about how Jets fans react when they don't like the draft pick...there will be way more people at Nassau...
2. Tampa gets Hedman
3. Colorado has Tavares on the table. Again, if you're the Avs and you have Stastny, Hejduk, Wolski, etc., I wonder if you don't peddle the pick for a few players and then draft a few spots down...Would that blow your mind if Tavares doesn't get drafted in the top three?

Alright, so basically all three scenarios have the Avs trading the pick and dropping down. In all likelihood, they'll just take the last of the big three available. But these aren't completely out of the question and goes to show you how much is riding on that Islanders pick in less than four hours...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The 10 Biggest Transactions in Ottawa Senators History

On the eve of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, Ottawa Senators fans know that their franchise is about to change forever. In all likelihood, GM Bryan Murray is less than 24 hours away from making a trade that will severely alter the dynamic of our hockey team. Dany Heatley will be shipped out of the capital city, per his request. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the transactions over the course of the modern day Senators history and their impact on the franchise. The impending Heatley trade will no doubt be in this list somewhere by this weekend. Here are my picks in order:

10. 7/15/94 Randy Cunneyworth signs as a free agent
Okay, so this is a mild start. Let us not forget, though, that when we first made the playoffs in 1996-97, it was Cunney that wore the 'C' in Ottawa. He was one of the leaders of this team when we went from laughing stock to model franchise.

9. 11/27/96 Ottawa trades the rights to Pavol Demitra to St. Louis for Christer Olsson
In our defense, Demitra was holding out that fall and wanted nothing to do with what at the time was a brutal team. Little did he know, Randy Cunneyworth would get us into the playoffs, right, mates? Olsson managed 5 points in 25 career NHL games. Demitra is slightly better and would have been a force in those playoff matchups with Toronto.

8. 7/10/06 Ottawa trades Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski to Chicago for Tom Preissing, Josh Hennessy, Michael Barinka, and a 2nd round pick in 2008 (Patrick Wiercioch).
Tough call here because Havlat's contract demands were higher than we could afford in the early cap years. But we got fleeced in this one. The only silver lining right now is Wiercioch as a solid blue-liner in a few years. Otherwise, this was the last time that Ottawa formally had a second line winger. Secondary scoring has been an issue ever since Havlat left town.

7. 6/18/99 Ottawa trades Ted Donato and Anti-Jussi Niemi to Anaheim for Patrick Lalime.
I'm going to give Patty some props for being arguably the best goalie we've had in Ottawa (not counting the guy in #6, but don't read ahead). Unfortunately, Lalime will never be remembered too kindly in Ottawa as he made a regular habit of not beating Toronto in the playoffs. Lalime got a bit of a rough deal in that it was usually our offence that couldn't get pucks past guys like Joseph and Belfour. After giving up three goals in the first period in 2004, including two absolutely brutal ones to Joe Nieuwendyk, Lalime was traded on 6/27/04 to St. Louis for a 4th round pick, who turned out to be sometimes-touted prospect Ilja Zubov. I also forgot to mention that in the year we acquired Lalime, we also moved Tugnutt and Laukkanen on 3/14/00 at the deadline for supposed playoff warrior Tom Barasso, fresh off his two Cups in Pittsburgh. I always liked Tugger better.

6. 7/6/04 Ottawa signs Dominik Hasek
Hard to call this an impact signing because he never played the whole season, but a lot came from this. For starters, it was the first time ever that we had a legitimate 'elite' goaltender, a Hall of Famer. He played lights out for us, too. He also allowed us to see that we had some talent in our hot-headed backup, Ray Emery, who was shown to his spot in the crease in March and April before we were bounced by Buffalo in the playoffs.

5. 6/26/93 Ottawa drafts Alexandre Daigle first overall, leaving Chris Pronger to be picked second by Hartford.
I don't want to turn this into a 'we should have drafted that guy' article, but this one stands out as one of the most catastrophic disasters in pro sports. Daigle was a bust and Pronger still stands as one of the most feared defencemen in the league and has a Stanley Cup to his name. Daigle was traded on 1/17/98 to Philadelphia for Vinny Prospal (I think we called him Vaclav back then), Pat Falloon, and a 2nd round pick, which turned into wunderkind Chris Bala. The only reason this blunder isn't higher on the list is because even Pronger couldn't have helped Ottawa in the early 90's.

4. 1/23/96 Ottawa trades Don Beaupre, Martin Straka, and Bryan Berard to the NY Islanders for Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes
Berard, another holdout, refused to play in Ottawa after being picked first overall. No worries, let's just swap with the second overall pick and also get some goalie that was known better for his girlfriend than his on-ice performance. Say what you want about losing Straka, because Wade Redden was an elite defenceman for most of his career in Ottawa. Like a few others, he'll be remembered for his last season, which sucks, but he was a pivotal player for us for a very, very long time. Ironically, we made sure Berard didn't amount to much. Boooooooo.

3. 8/23/05 Ottawa trades Marian Hossa and Greg DeVries to Atlanta for Dany Heatley
So Muckler, the shrewd bastard that he is, puts on his thick-rimmed glasses and signs Hossa to a 3-year extension on the morning of his arbitration hearing. But the joke was on Hossa as he was sent off and we picked up one of the most prolific goal scorers of the decade, and the best goal scorer in Ottawa history. Hossa had always been criticized for his poor playoff record. Those feelings were validated when Heatley helped us reach the Stanley Cup Finals in his second year in Ottawa (disregard that Hossa has played in the Finals the last two years). In terms of magnitude of talent going both ways, this is one of the biggest trades in all of hockey in recent memory. Heatley helped give the Sens some Canadian content and we all watched love blossom between him and Jason Spezza, one of the most lethal tandems in the league.

2. 6/23/01 Ottawa trades Alexei Yashin to the NY Islanders for Bill Muckalt, Zdeno Chara, and their first round pick (second overal), who turned out to be some goofball named Jason Spezza.
Arguably the most lopsided transaction in sports history. In terms of trades, nothing has shaped our franchise more than this one. We moved our most disgruntled employee (I tallied 5 contract battles in his tenure) for a great draft pick and some tall oaf that couldn't skate. Chara just won the Norris Trophy and Spezza is a 100-point centre making $7M a year. Yashin was bought out and now plays in Russia while the Isles continue to send cheques.

1. 6/28/94 Ottawa drafts Daniel Alfredsson in the 6th round of the NHL Entry Draft, 133rd overall.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, has done more or meant more to this franchise than Daniel Alfredsson. He exemplifies everything that we are passionate about in Ottawa Senators hockey. In reading through this list and seeing the holdouts like Berard and Demitra, and the trade demands in Yashin and Heatley (and Corvo, Preissin, Schaefer, Nicholat, Nikulin...), it gives you goosebumps to know that we have a guy like Alfie as our captain. He has quietly gone about his business for over a decade, taking paycuts to fit in salaries, signing lifetime contracts, and telling us that he wants to stay in Ottawa after his playing career is over. He is one of the best all-around players in all of hockey and he loves playing for the Ottawa Senators. That, my friends, makes his draft choice the most important trasaction in the history of this franchise.

So, any ommissions? I left out things like the Eaves/Corvo trade, the Emery buyout, etc. Also, where will Friday's Heatley trade rank in this list? And one more time, don't you just love Daniel Alfredsson?!?!

Heatley to Minnesota?

Take it with a whole jar full of salt, but Brennan is saying that BM has found a deal with the Wild that he likes and he's now asking Heatley's agents if he'll waive the NMC to go there. Click here for link. Honestly, it pains me so deeply to quote Brennan and link twitter in the same post. Sad day for me, no doubt. Unless Minnesota put a deadline on the offer, I can't imagine why Murray would do anything before the draft begins. I said earlier that Murray's challenge was to go to bed Thursday night with an offer in hand and then spend Friday telling the other teams to try and match it all the way up to the first round.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Your Dany Heatley Prediction...down to 10 potential suitors

Okay, so I'm not going to actually apply odds to each team, but I want to add my two cents to the potential destinations by looking at each and every one of the 29 other teams, taking into consideration the cap, their needs, and their return offer. Let me start by saying my inside sources (read: TSN) said that this is a three team race between Edmonton (offering Souray as the main piece), NY Rangers (offering Drury as the main piece) and San Jose (offering Marleau as the main piece). Murray has also said that nobody has offered us a higher pick in the first round yet. And while I have the conch, Jack, let me also point out that we're going to need to take a contract back. So as you look through these teams, keep in mind that while it would be nice to get picks and rookies, we're going to end up with a $4M+ player on our books, guaranteed.

Here we go, kids:

Anaheim: Sure, that might work. We all know Getzlaf and Heatley work wonders on the international stage. We'd definitely want Corey Perry in return (I'd actually do that trade straight up to get that extra $2M in cap space and a player that can drive the net). They definitely have cap space, regardless of what Niedermeyer does, and they desperately need scorers, which might make them hesitate about a one-for-one deal. Does Anaheim benefit from this? They take on an extra $2M and add 15-20 goals a year.

Atlanta: Not going to happen. He won't go there, they don't want him, etc., etc., etc.

Boston: This is where the interdivisional trade debate comes in. Typically, you don't want to send a top player to a division rival. But in this tough position, does that unwritten rule fall by the wayside? They are in major cap trouble with Kessel and perhaps a Wideman ($3.875M for three more years)/Kessel package would be available here. But you then have to face him 6 times a year and facing Chara that often already sucks. Kessel and Wideman?

Buffalo: Never say never, but I think the two teams hate each other just enough to not work together. Buffalo loves building from within and has a ton of depth up front as it is. They need their help on defence and we know quite well that Heatley doesn't deal with defence. Zing!

Carolina: For some reason, this is a dark horse to me just because Rutherford and Murray have connected before. It might be of interest to the Canes that they have a great centre in Staal and then a couple of dinosaurs in Brind'Amour and Wizard Whitney that have a couple of years left. I think we'd demand Pitkanen at least, and boy Brandon Sutter would be a nice pickup. I just don't think Carolina wants two $7M+ forwards, though, nor do they want to give up Pitkanen.

Calgary: Heatley for Phaneuf, right Eklund? Forget it. The cap space isn't there for either team since we're both trying to shed some weight. Calgary needs a centre for Iginla, not a winger. And putting Heatley on a line with Iggy and Jokinen is like an island of misfit toys in that they all play a different style. I don't see Calgary as a player here. Sutter Boys want to build from the net out.

Chicago: Now there is something to talk about here. They're hoping to keep Havlat long-term. What if he won't sign? Now they have to find an elite scorer and we know they have a ton of depth on D. But if BM didn't want to match that Brian Campbell offer last year, he certainly won't trade for it this year after he was demoted to the second pairing behind Seabrook and Keith. A package involving Sharp and Barker would be a nice start, though, if the Hawks were resolved to just paying Huet and not re-signing Bulin Wall.

Columbus: I don't think they have the horses to offer us. They do have talented young forwards like Brassard, Voracek, and of course Filatov, but those are building blocks and trading for Heatley just holds that back. I don't see this happening.

Colorado: I thought about this one for a while, but Colorado is going to go into rebuild mode and brace for one more year (or no more years) of Sakic. They need to start turning this team over to Stastny, who is untouchable here. After that, they don't have the blue liners that we'd covet and under no circumstances would they give us that third overall pick. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if they tried to move someone and that third overall to Long Island to get Hedman in the first overall before Tampa picks. In the meantime, Wolski and Liles won't do it for me.

Dallas: Keep an eye out for these guys. New GM plus an embarassing season could equal a big trade. They've got some interesting young forwards in Neal and Eriksson and they hold the 8th overall pick. That being said, they already have an expensive contract with Richards for two more years. I'm not sure they'd give us a defenceman given that Sydor and Zubov are old as hell. I wouldn't be shocked if Nieuwendyk tried something crazy, though.

Detroit: Forget it. Holland can get hometown discounts on lifetime contracts (it's like the effing Supreme Court in there), but he can't fit in Heatley, too. Plus, how dare you suggest having a player that makes more than Lidstrom. The Little Caesars guy sentences you to a lifetime of his own pizza. Ahhhh, noooo.

Edmonton: This one is a pretty straight fit. There are plenty of reasons for this to work if they throw in young guys like Sully, Gagner, Cogliano, or Stortini to go along with a defencemen like Souray, Visnovsky or Gilbert. To me, any combination of one of those forwards plus one of those defencemen plus their 10th overall pick is enough for me. Just don't put Heatley in touch with Mrs. Pronger in asking if he wants to live there.

Florida: Randy Sexton, old Kanata guy and co-founder of the Sens appears to be calling the shots lately. Without question, these guys could use a star player right about now. The problem is, we'd want their centre back in Nathan Horton. I don't think Florida has the assets available unless Murray wants Bouwmeester's rights, which isn't completely out of the question. Bouw's negotiating rights plus their pick plus Weiss?

Los Angeles: Not going to happen, folks. This isn't even a real rumour! Someone made it up because LA asked for a scoring winger and they have cap space and problem players. Lombardi and Hextall have both come out and said there are 'red flags' around Heatley. You don't call a guy a red flag and then trade for him. That's as bad as calling him a jive turkey, in my books, right Jackie Moon? There is no such offer of Frolov, JMFJ, and their 5th. I'll personally eat my Heatley jersey with a knife and fork if he ends up in the City of Angels.

Minnesota: This one is in play, for sure. A new GM who has publicly said he is trying to make an immediate stamp on the franchise and they're about to lose their former franchise forward. People talk a lot about Burns, but I worry about his shoulder injury and him potentially being a bit overhyped. I know that Zidlicky is already 32, but he's signed at $3.35M and I think is better than Kuba at moving the puck around. Add in a young player like Clutterbuck and a draft pick?

Montreal: Piss off, Habs. At least we're looking upward. You guys are still trying to find a reason to celebrate your 100th season. Au revoir. Murray would never send him down the road to the land of expected entitlement.

Nashville: This would have been an interesting discussion had David Poile not said no. They've got a plethora of defencemen and Danny Hamhouse would be a nice piece to start. But again, Poile said to beat it.

New Jersey: Speaking of the old boys club, Lou is like the dang headmaster of the group. That's the only reason this is worth considering. I don't think he'd go for it because this is becoming Parise's team and there is no need to slow that transition down. Average age of the Devils players is 64, interesting fact.

NY Islanders: No sense in this. Garth needs as many serviceable bodies as he can get and it would cost him three of them to get Heatley.

NY Rangers: Okay, so let's assume that the rumours of Redden getting sent down are true, thus giving them a bit more cap space. This deal would have to include either the Gomez contract or the Drury contract. Do you like how I don't even refer to them as people? Just contracts. Drury is the more manageable of the two - three more years at $7.05 while Gomez has five more years at $7.35M. The only fun part would be to have the old Sabres captain and hero to make them hate us more. I just don't think Murray would take on that contract, even if they added in pieces like their first round pick and a young dman like Sanguinetti, Girardi, or even Staal. Would you take Drury if it meant you could get Staal and their 1st?

Philadelphia: 4 reasons why this won't happen: Briere, Carter, Richards, Gagne. They're already trying to peddle Lupul to make room for a defenceman. Nothing here.

Phoenix: I just don't know how a bankrupt team would take on a $7.5M contract. Jovo is only 33 and they've got some good young forwards...nahhhhh, they won't take on this contract.

Pittsburgh: They don't have what we want. Staal is a tad overpaid and after that, they're made up of these old bag of bones role players. Plus, why would they change anything?

San Jose: Here's another strong choice. They want to change the path a bit after shatting the bed again. Would we have to take Marleau at $6.3M for this year? Ehrhoff or Vlasic are both young defencemen at $3.1M. This really depends on if Doug Wilson insists on Marleau, or if he'd be open to a Michalek or Setoguchi. At that point, though, they are in cap trouble. They also have to deal with Ryan Clowe and his RFA status - perhaps he's available as a winger. But yeah, I think this would have to involve Marleau. I guess it couldn't be bad to have a legit #2 centre and a solid second pairing defenceman and their pick.

St. Louis: A ton of young players, but they aren't going to screw up the amazing progress they made this year by trading some of them for one goal scorer. This team belongs to the young stars here and it will be that way for a few more years. JD is running this team and he will not sway from their strategy. Blues are not in play.

Tampa Bay: Remember that rumour that had a three-way deal that ended with Lecavalier here? Wow. Not worth anymore space than that. The only thing that Tampa needs more than warm bodies right now is Victor Hedman. They won't move multiple players to get Heatley and they won't move that pick. How's Meszaros doing, fellas?

Toronto: Not worth talking about. Unless...we somehow get LA's #5 pick, which I said we wouldn't do, then sent that to Toronto for Kaberle and the 7th...

Vancouver: This has potential if the Sedin Sisters bring their two-man alien show to another tent in another town. They could use someone to cheer them up after Luongo cried is eyes out last playoffs, and they could use some scoring after the meatballs take off. Let me start by saying I don't care for Kesler at all. He's a poor man's Fisher and is going to start looking for that kind of money next year. Give us Grabner and Bieksa and we can start talking about who else we want. Also, a quick aside is that Murray tried to trade Redden to SJ for Steve Bernier and a first rounder two years ago, so there's obviously something there that he likes.

Washington: Nothing here. They need a father figure for Mike Green on the blue line, not another goal scorer.

So when all is said and done, who are we left with? Anaheim, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, NY Rangers, San Jose, Vancouver. Are you upset because I just rattled off 10 teams as potential destinations? The most popular hockey rumour site does exactly that but spreads them out three at a time. I just saved you a week's worth of clicks by putting them all in once place.

So who should we draft?

For those that don’t feel like clicking on Wikipedia, we actually have a decent history with our first round draft picks. In fact, we’ve actually done pretty decent over our entire franchise history, save for Matthieu Chouinard in 1998 (we don’t even talk Daigle here). Hossa was a 12th overall pick, Havlat 26th overall, A-Train 21st overall…and so on. Three of the last five years, we’ve taken a defenceman with the first round pick (Meszy, Lee, and Karlsson). I’m not convinced we’re going to do the same this year.

What is so interesting is that while in the past, we’ve been desperate for help on the blue line, this year might be the year that we’re desperate for forward. Brian Lee was picked over some fugly dude named Kopitar because Muckler knew that we’d lose one of Chara or Redden. Obviously Lee hasn’t hit his potential yet and he’s no Chara, but the pick served a purpose. The same was the case last year with the Karlsson pick as Murray and Co. realized that we stunk at getting the puck up the ice.

But this year is different and I don’t fully understand why Bryan Murray was quoted as saying the Heatley situation doesn’t affect his pick. In my opinion, the Heatley saga completely changes the strategy on that pick because what used to be another 5 years of a lethal scorer has turned into beaucoup of unease and uncertainty. We already lack scoring depth and we’re days away from trading away one of the best goal scorers of this decade. The other piece to consider is that our beloved captain is on his last contract. By the time this draft pick hits his prime, Alfie will probably have his #11 in the rafters. Four years from now, only one of the big three will still be skating in Ottawa and we’re going to need more guys to put the puck in the net.

To me, the writing is on the wall and Ottawa MUST go after a forward. There’s a strong chance that there is going to be a solid defenceman available, liked OEL or Kulikov. That being said, we’ve got to keep our attention on big goal scorers like Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson or centremen like Nazem Kadri. I know everyone’s got the hots for MPS, but I like the Canadian factor that we’d get with Kadri. I’m not anti-European by any stretch, but I think we got a great pick with Foligno because he grew up around the Canadian game (Buffalo is close enough) and knows the passion in Ontario. Kadri brings that same understanding of how important hockey is to us in Ottawa. Murray is such a big ‘character player’ guy that I think Kadri will be right up his alley. We're looking for strength and depth up the middle for a guy that doesn't have to be a #1 centre with Spezza in town. We're looking for a guy that is big enough to forecheck hard, but not so big that he can't skate. And we're looking for a guy that can rack up points without having to be 'the' guy on the team. Enough with the run on Swedes, let's keep it local again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Loving these rumours, are ya?

I always find it funny when people say things like, "I don't care where Heatley goes, just trade him and get this over with. I'm tired of this!". To you, I ask if you're serious. This is awesome! In the worst season in Ottawa in over a decade, we've managed to become the biggest story in June! We have a full-blown rumour mill churning out garbage, we have a top ten draft choice, we have a new evil villain, and we have reasons for optimism in Clouston and Leclaire (remember him?). Frankly, this has already been one of the most exciting off-seasons and I'm loving it! I'd like the Heatley saga to drag on and on just to hear every last Sens player in a rumour. We're so close to a 3-way rumour with Malkin, Kopitar, and Heatley, I can almost smell Brennan feverishly typing on his laptop with his tongue sticking out on the side...

In the meantime, it sounds like we're still looking to clean up the blue line. The 6th Sens has a piece on Ottawa not yet giving Brenden Bell a qualifying offer which are due by next Monday. Apparently, there is also talk about dumping Picard and mum has been the word on Gator. It's official, Bryan Murray just doesn't leak info. Let's sit tight and wait to see what Bettman announces Friday.

Regardless of the talent on the board, I don't know how we can't take a strong forward like Kadri. Keep in mind that guys we draft now are players that will crack the lineup when Alfie is finishing up his career, hence the need for scoring and skill up front.


Monday, June 22, 2009

To the rumor-mongerers

Listen, I just don't have inside information like some of the others out there, and I won't stoop to the level of making up rumours like some other anonymous sites. What I can tell you is that as you sift through all the sludge on the web, make sure you remember that BM likes to keep his deals in the Old Boys Club. I think he'll deal with one of those other old school GMs out there. The other wild card here is if a brand new GM wants to make a splash to shock their fan base: read Dallas and Minnesota. We'll see, though, right? My hunch is he sticks to the old boys network - calling Jimmy Rutherford? I truly hope it is to a team that nobody has talked about yet, just to stick it to the experts.

And one more thing - with the latest round of posturing from Murray, let's keep our fingers crossed that he really is closing in on something. Not only do we deal with a problem player, but we get a second chance at fixing our pay structure and spread the money out a bit. Amazing how we watched the Lightning get into this mess of putting all their money into three players and then sink like a stone, and then we copied it. Let's also hope that this is an omen that Spezza truly will be the future of this franchise.

What if Dany Heatley is still an Ottawa Senator at training camp? UPDATED

(Update: Monday, June 22, 4:20pm) - Bryan Murray has said that if he can't move Heatley at the draft and we end up having to pay that $4M bonus in a week and a half on July 1st, he might just keep the guy. So either he's posturing and telling teams to make their absolute best offer by Friday night, or he is really serious about just hanging on to Heatley to see if this can be turned around. Click here for the full story on Sportsnet's site

Original piece:
I like to preface some of these pieces with a quick aside – in this case, I stand by my prediction that Heaters is moved on the draft floor in Montreal on Friday night. But knowing the stubbornness of Bryan Murray, coupled with the history of the Senators franchise to play hardball with its players, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we enter training camp with Heatley on the roster. What would this mean for the team? Let’s consider what this means for Heatley, what this means for Clouston, and what this means for the rest of the lineup.

At some point in the next little while, Bryan Murray will undoubtedly approach #15 with a small handful of teams that have presented suitable offers for the troubled winger. If Heatley refuses to budge on his list of preferred destinations and Murray gets tough (as he promised us he would), then Dany Heatley will officially become the 800lb gorilla sauntering back in to the Sens locker room in September. Local heroes Mike Fisher and Chris Neil have already gone public in questioning their teammate, so you can safely assume that he’s lost his popularity points among the rest of the team, as well. If he truly is a good team player like some have suggested, he’d be well-served by going into that dressing room with a heartfelt apology, a lengthy explanation, and a commitment to play as hard as possible for his teammates. Rather than avoid the awkwardness, Heatley will need to step up to the podium and deal with this immediately off the ice. As for on the ice, there is nothing here that says he won’t get back to his 90-100 point levels. Even if his teammates rightfully think of him as a total assbag for wanting to walk out, they still have a common goal of winning a Cup. Exhibit A is Alexei Yashin’s performance after his one-year hiatus/suspension/holdout in Russia – 82 games, 40 goals, 48 assists for 88 points, the second highest total in his career. These players are grown ups and when they step on the ice, they perform at top levels. This isn’t the California Penal League, Vaughn, they’re professionals here. They don’t tank plays for personal reasons, so cut the crybaby shat! My point is that Heatley’s biggest challenge coming back to Ottawa will be off the ice and patching up the relationships that he had his agents destroy for him.

What about poor Cory Clouston? The guy hasn’t had a sound byte since his highest paid player threw him under the bus. How does Clouston handle Dany Heatley in the fall? Again, I’m all about communication and confronting that obese ape before it turns into more of a circus than it already is. They’re both men and they need to find some common ground, but with the understanding that Clouston isn’t going to back down from his expectations. If he wants Heatley to play an aggressive forechecking game like the rest of the team, then he needs to stand by that demand. Good coaches find ways to get the most out of each player, knowing that it takes different tactics for different personalities. Find what works as soon as possible and remain tough. If splitting up Heatley and his on-again/off-again boyfriend is what it takes to get the team playing right, then do it. Just be careful that you don’t jeopardize the well-being of this team just to try and make a point to Heatley. The dicey part here is that Heatley is the goal scorer on this team, so you have to find a way to get his performance to suit your team system but without sacrificing his natural ability to put the biscuit in the basket. Coach, you have your work cut out for you. Fair or not, the challenge on you to succeed with this situation is far greater than it is for the guy that put you in this mess to begin with.

And what about the rest of the team? I’ve already said that the onus is on Heatley to step up and make amends with his teammates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to accept those terms. That being said, we’re all better off if they can see this as water under the bridge. Frankly, I don’t know how you can do that, but hopefully his standing in the dressing room is such that he can get back to joking around with his teammates and perhaps even lighten up a bit in the community. Instead of taking Don Brennan’s columns to heart, maybe he can start laughing it off like Spezza has been able to do. Like I said earlier, though, the real challenge here is assimilation back into the dressing room. On the ice, professionalism overcomes personal feelings and they’ll all be fine together. They aren’t going to avoid Heatley when he has his stick teed up in the far circle, are they? They want to win and Heatley helps make that happen. Hopefully, a non-trade serves as a humbling experience for Dany and he realizes he has to clean up his act.

The safe move remains to trade him as soon as possible and let the boys know that they can move on with new teammates that WANT to be in Ottawa. Nobody liked it when Yashin came back in 2000-01, even if they gladly suited up alongside him on the ice. The guy will get booed on home ice, as Yashin did, and will get torn up in the media. Perhaps if Heatley does still suit up for Ottawa this fall, we’re all better off if he can light the lamp as much as possible and get his trade value up to a point where someone can pull the trigger that they’re scared to do this month. Suffice it to say that even if Heatley DOES end up starting the year in Ottawa, he certainly won’t end it here.