Monday, February 01, 2010

What Would You Do With Jonathan Cheechoo?

Couple of days off here before we take our streak to the Slugs, so I started looking at our payroll and how we shape up next year. It isn't a surprise to anyone that the biggest hindrance on that list is the $3M Cheechoo hit. He really doesn't have any fans left here as even those 'he works hard' people are starting to see that he makes too much to just skate hard and not do anything. I'm not trying to be mean about it, but we've already discussed how he doesn't actually provide us with anything out there that we couldn't get from Zach Smith at a fraction of the price.

There's a rumour floating out there that Burkie is going to once again clear payroll so that he can make a trade with a Kovalchuk suitor to absorb a bad contract. He might demote Finger to the Marlies and then help the Rags or the Bruins or the Flyers send away bad contacts so that team can then pay Kovalchuk. They actually did this last year in acquiring Kolzig from the Lightning in a move that nobody actually talked about much.

It got me thinking about options we have to deal with Cheechoo. He is signed through next season at a bad contract and really prevents us from doing much at the deadline and doing much in the summer. Which option is best?

1. Keep him on the team

We've seen what Cheechoo offers - he has 5 goals and 8 assists in 56 games and is a minus-9. He doesn't work on the powerplay or kill penalties. He doesn't play top six minutes. He doesn't have a great shot, he isn't a superb backchecker, and his skating makes Brad Marsh look like Paul Coffey. Seriously, why does it look like Cheechoo is skating on the Canal the day after temperatures went above zero? By keeping him on the team next year, we're stuck with a third or fourth liner that makes too much money for what he does. I hate to say this, but he actually makes linemates worse. Regin and Shannon were playing great when they had Kovalev. Now that they're with Cheechoo, they were unanimously seen as the worst line in the win over the Habs. Whichever line he has been on, his trio has struggled. I don't like the idea of him being around next year. All we gain is the occasional ability to compare his stats combined with Michalek against Heatley's numbers, and I'm tired of that.

2. Send him to Bingo (or Cornwall, as one blog would have you believe...boooooo)

I proposed this earlier in the season when it was clear that Cheechoo wasn't good. It clears the space, it allows us to ice a better team with better players, and it would give him a chance to try and rediscover anything he has left outside the spotlight in the AHL. Two drawbacks - Murray might take heat for essentially trading Heatley for Michalek, and it sends a bad message to impending UFA's. I'm a firm believer that the players and their agents discuss this when contemplating offers in the summer. They know that in New Jersey, you'll be sent to the minors to ride the buses if you struggle - right, Alex Mogilny and Richard Matvichuk? It gives us short-term relief on the cap, but might hurt us in attracting UFAs in the future, which we already have trouble doing. I don't mind the idea, but it isn't the first choice of the organization, methinks. I also think, as I said earlier, that there is some stubbornness at play here as Murray won't want to answer questions about benching his acquisition, regardless of the crappy circumstance in which he was acquired.

3. Buy him out

Costly. We already pay Emery for the next two years, so Cheechoo would give us 2/3 of his salary ($2M, says my math), spread over two years. So for a million bucks a year for the next two years, we can re-release Cheechoo to the league. In addition to the points made in option #2, it might also not make economic sense. Let's say we go sign some forward for $2M, it actually is a signing for $3M because it was Cheechoo's buyout that allowed it to happen. I know we have to look at buyouts at a sunk cost, but for me, we need to consider all of these costs before the buyouts happen. This option isn't outrageous and might still work out, but it would suck to have a couple million bucks against the cap for guys that play for opponents. Anybody think this one is best? I'm on the fence.

4. Trade him to a team that can absorb his salary, plus take some picks from us.

Last March, Kolzig was traded along with two minor leaguers (who are now unsigned, not even with Toronto) to the Leafs, along with a fourth round pick, for Richard Petiot, who is also no longer with the team that picked him up. So the Lightning buried salary on another team and it cost them a fourth round pick. Truth be told, there are teams that can handle Cheechoo's $3M salary. Does Murray have the ability to pull the move to send off a third rounder with Cheechoo for nothing but a no-name prospect? To me, this is a beauty of a move. I know we lose a pick, but it beats having him on this team, it beats the negative press around burying him in the minors, and it beats the cost of buying him out. Atlanta, for instance, has $25M committed next year and could maybe see upside in taking him on, either on the big team or sending him to the A. It doesn't give us a bad name because we're truly trying to give him a fresh start instead of ending his career in the minors.

Listen, people, I'm not in favour of mistreating players. Cheechoo is a hard worker that has hit a roadbump. My concern is that by being polite as fans or being stubborn as an organization, we're hurting this team's potential. Cheechoo is not good anymore and I can say that if he were a free agent, I don't even see him being worth a contract at this point. Sorry, buddy. Let's give him a fresh start, give this team some cap relief, and give the spot to Chummy or Zach Smith for the rest of the year. Send him and a pick and dump the salary.

Thoughts from the masses? I didn't have an option of trading him for players of value because I don't think it is possible. Am I missing something else here? I just hope Murray can accept that he's not helping this team and cut ties.


Anonymous said...

All teams have bad contracts ..
Sens only have one and it is part of doing business.

duff said...

Agree that every team has them, but it doesn't mean you MUST have on without trying to resolve it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Duff, If losing the bad contract means we give up a later pick (3rd +)? I am all for it.

We can use that cap space on a top 4 dman and we are set for the playoffs!

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure Cheech will be gone if they need the cap space. Remember that Melnyk absorbed heatley's 4 Million bonus to help team chemistry. Sens are lucky with this owner I'd say

Dave Young said...

Not sure if I agree with all the things posted above. I dont think comparing him to Kovalev on that Regin-Shannon line is fair because Kovalev is an all-world talent that opens space for speedy linemates. I will agree the team woould be better off (cap-wise atleast) with smith. But I do think cheechoo has been very effective creating chances when he has been placed with kelly and ruutu.

I think the last option is to package him with A-Train if we trade him at the deadline for a top d-man. Not likely, but a much better outcome than any stated above

Dave Young said...

Not sure if I agree with all the things posted above. I dont think comparing him to Kovalev on that Regin-Shannon line is fair because Kovalev is an all-world talent that opens space for speedy linemates. I will agree the team woould be better off (cap-wise atleast) with smith. But I do think cheechoo has been very effective creating chances when he has been placed with kelly and ruutu.

I think the last option is to package him with A-Train if we trade him at the deadline for a top d-man. Not likely, but a much better outcome than any stated above

Anonymous said...

Keep Cheech this year unless a stupid-good trade is possible for which it is necessary to create cap-space. Then do whatever is available. This scenario will likely present itself in the summer. But him out then. This year is bonus unexpected playoff fun. Next year is the cup run. Having said that, it would be nice to get Smith a chance to play regularly in the NHL before next year. Murray will be patient and something good will eventually happen.


Anonymous said...

Guys, this is BY FAR the most negative blog out there. The team has won nine in a row, and you STILL try to find something to nag about. Cheechoo has not hurt this team, and while he's not worth 3M, he could be if he were playing consistently with Spezza and Alfie/Michalek. Since the beginning of the 5 game losing streak, Cheechoo has 3 points and is a +2, not great but not spectacular, plus half the goals scored by the sens that have been disallowed have been scored by him. The problem as I see you, or people like you. You can say you gave him the benefit of the doubt, but you never really did, and your posts on this blog since the start of the season confirm this. He plays with confidence and speed when the coach believes in him. Also, the main thing to notice about him is that he comes on late in the season and really ups his game in the playoffs unlike the rest of the Sharks when he was there. I predict you'll be singing a different tune about him at the end of the playoffs, just like many are now about karlsson. Have some more faith and patience and you'll see. ;)

duff said...

I don't think it is unfair to call out Cheechoo. There is nothing he does that Donovan or Zach Smith can't do. His salary mandates that he's in the lineup and I think that's bush league.

Also, we've had some positive, upbeat posts here. Just Saturday, I was talking about how great and proud it is to be a Sens fan. Yesterday, we looked at potential forwards to acquire for a playoff run. I just can't keep finding ways to say that Elliott is playing well and we're rolling four lines. I'm not trying to be negative, but just offer different insights.

I'm a proud Sens fan, but I don't own any rose-colored glasses. If a player stinks, I want to talk about it. I just can't agree that Cheechoo has been effective this year, at any point. His one goal in the last month was when the referee took out Wideman, sending Cheech in on a breakaway in a blowout. Tell me you don't watch him and just pull your hair out trying to figure out what twisted world he lived in when he scored 56 goals. He's not NHL caliber.

Everyone else is great, though. Sens are great. That's positive!

GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

How is send him to the minors treating him unfairly? He adds nothing to the team and is paid 3 times more than players who would contribute more.

He's not entitled to play in the NHL. If his play warrants it (and it does), he should be sent down.

Master Of Puppets said...

Does he not have to clear waivers to be sent down?

It is definitely the 3M that drives discussions like this. Nobody is going to question his heart, character or ability to hit and win battles on the boards. Pound for pound dollar for dollar, 3M is far too much for a 4th line checker. To say not NHL caliber 4th liner might be a stretch, but one wonders if Denis Hamel couldn't do the same job, much less a young prospect who has shown an ability to perform.

Part of it is being under utilized. I still have trouble figuring out why he can't be as effective as Franzen or Holmstrom (were, are) as a fixture in the crease on the PP.

On that note - I bet if he were in Detroit and used there he'd put up numbers like the aforementioned.

If he is waived and taken on re-entry before the deadline it would open up some cap space to perhaps add a rental enigmatic second line Russian winger to play opposite the artist.

There's nothing wrong with discussing the weaknesses and needs of a professional sports team even when it is rolling. We are not disillusioned about this team becoming the next powerhouse, nor are we trying to generate negative energy to bring the team down. As if they read and/or take it seriously. If they are, what the hell are they doing reading blogs like this when they should be in the gym, training?

If you want constant positive, I'm sure there's a Pippy Longstocking or Disney blog out there somewhere to read. Enjoy!

John said...

Why are we worried about Cheechoo
and his salary? It was purchased
from San Jose and now he's gone.
We need to look at Cullen and
hope he's better than Cheechoo.
Though he under achieved in Ottawa
he still has potential. Look at
Chara or Emery, they are doing ok.
Our winning streak is over, as we
fired Cheechoo we stop winning.
Too bad.