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The 6th Sens Mailbag – Kuba & Gonchar Edition



Following yesterday’s post on David Rundblad, I had a few emails from readers asking for some kind of clarification on my stance on Gonchar and Kuba.

Below is just an example of what was in our inbox.

You friggin’ love Gonchar and Kuba. If either has a turnaround season, I will give you full credit. They both look old and finished to me though, just saying. ~ Isaac

Friggin’ love? Strong words. Maybe I haven’t articulated my point clearly enough.

I don’t particularly enjoy either of Gonchar or Kuba as players. Sure, perhaps I may be a tad too optimistic about their potential to recoup some trade value. Like Isaac mentioned, both players could very well be old and finished.

Bruce Garrioch recently reported that the Senators couldn’t find a market for either veteran player at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

League sources say the club tried to deal either Sergei Gonchar (two years left at $5.5 million) or Filip Kuba (one season left at $3.7 million) during the draft in Minnesota in June, but couldn’t find any takers.

If the organization is seriously considering moving either player when a market doesn’t appear to exist, it doesn’t make any sense from an asset management perspective to cut their losses now. Both players were brought in by Bryan Murray to be veteran contributors and each have exhibited enough utility in recent seasons to suggest that they can be better. The problems both players endured last year were well documented and lend support to that argument.

After Kuba having offseason back surgery, suffered a setback in training camp when he broke his leg. Even when he returned to the lineup, his physical conditioning was questionable and he just never seemed comfortable out on the ice. And similarly, Gonchar had a difficult transition playing for a new team and playing within a system that words failed to describe.

For either of these players to inflate their value, they need to be put in a position to succeed. And in comments made by Paul MacLean, he’s willing to give everyone a clean slate and indicated to TSN that he’s looking forward to seeing Gonchar play in camp

Obviously keeping both of these veterans will necessitate seeing one of Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Matt Carkner or Brian Lee being moved. Considering his pugilist skillset and the regard that teammates seem to have for him, Carkner probably won’t be the odd man out. If management decides to make room for Cowen and Rundblad, Lee’s probably the easiest to move. Admittedly, I have a bit of a soft spot for seeing Lee persevere and get regular playing down the stretch. And as easy as it is to make japes and poke fun at Lee for not being Anze Kopitar or Marc Staal and failing to fulfill the lofty expectations that a top 10 pick carries, I agree with Garrioch when he believes that the 24-year-old still has potential. He’s young. He’s inexpensive. He’s under team control for at least the next two seasons (becomes a RFA after the 2011-12 season.) And he’s shown that he’s capable of being a NHL defenceman who can log minutes and compliment Chris Phillips. (Note: For anyone who watched Phillips play for the better part of last season, this is perhaps the best accolade that can be said of anyone on last year’s team.) There’s value in that.

I suppose the cost for allowing rookies to develop at the NHL should discussed. Veterans like Lee, Carkner, Kuba and Gonchar may block some of Ottawa’s best prospects but injuries will inevitably arise and I would need to be convinced that a 20-60 game stretch for someone like Cowen would necessarily be a bad thing. I’m completely empathetic to the belief that if the team is going to be terrible, it would be more fun to watch the kids play but this is a short-sighted view when a long-term perspective is needed. If Gonchar or Kuba can fetch future assets that will eventually be able to augment the team in the future – when it’s closer to contention – that’s the smart thing to do.

In the worst case scenario, Kuba or Gonchar could get hurt or continue their ineffective play – thereby negatively their value. Even if it comes to that, at least the due diligence was done and there will be no lingering questions as to whether the organization exhausted before cutting losses.

More Mailbag From Isaac…

GP – 18 W – 13 L – 4 OTL –0 SO– 1 SV% – .928 GAA – 2.10
GP – 18 W-11 L-5 OTL-1 SO-2 SV% – .939 GAA – 2.05

Guess what those are?

Having written about unlikelihood that Craig  Anderson can sustain the numbers that he posted last season in Ottawa, I know that the second set of numbers were his.

According to Isaac, the first set of numbers stem from Brian Elliott’s hot stretch from January 18th through March 11th of the 2009-2010 season. (Note: numbers from Elliott’s stretch were calculated by Isaac. Elliott’s GAA was the only one that I have not corroborated.)

How’s that for a kicker?

Although I’d probably give Anderson more credit for being a more accomplished goaltender, these sample sizes should serve to remind fans not to invest too heavily into.

Hockey Canada Hires Ron Tugnutt

According to Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy), the associate editor for Puck Daddy, former Senators goaltender Ron Tugnutt was hired by Hockey Canada to be its full-time goaltending consultant. Amongst his other duties, he will scout for the national teams and work with goaltender player development.

Alfie’s Future?

Over at SenShot, the Senators blogosphere weighs in on the captain’s future in Ottawa. We were each posed the question: With the storied career of our captain coming to an end this season or the next, should Ottawa trade Daniel Alfredsson this year to a Cup favourite and give him a chance to have his name on Lord Stanley?

Here’s my response:

Speaking strictly from an asset management perspective, it would probably be the most logical course. Ottawa’s a rebuilding organization that probably won’t be in contention by the time that Alfie hangs ‘em up. With two seasons left on a relatively cap friendly contract and assuming he’s healthy and contributing, this would be the season when he’ll have the highest trade value. (As opposed to trading him next season.) Oh, if only it was this simple… but it’s not. Alfredsson is a selfless captain who is the face of the franchise and a staple within this community who seems destined to take on some organizational role once his playing days are over.

Will they trade Daniel Alfredsson?

Regardless of how often the TO media advocates the benefits of moving Alfie, probably not. Unless, barring some change of heart, the captain privately approaches management and requests to be dealt. Ownership has already gone to great lengths to indicate that he won’t be moved and it’d be a PR disaster if they were the ones to ask him if he’d be interested in moving on.