Even before Mark Stone injured himself at practice on Monday, the Senators were reportedly in the market for a top six forward who could complement their current group and give the Senators a chance to compete during this ballyhooed two-year window that ownership, perhaps unrealistically, thinks the team can contend for a Cup in.
In an article for ESPN, Pierre Lebrun indicated that the Buffalo Sabres’ Matt Moulson is a player that the Senators like with a caveat.
The Senators have to first decide if they’re buyers or not. The next slate of games over the next few weeks will help shape that decision.
If they string together wins, then GM Bryan Murray likely will feel more comfortable being a buyer, and he’s on record stating he’d like to add a top-six forward.
But if the Sens go through a rough patch and lose touch with a wild-card spot, then perhaps he holds off.
Lebrun even reiterated Ottawa’s interest in Moulson during last night’s edition of TSN’s ‘Insider Trading’.
“Matt Moulson, I think Darren, will get a lot of attention between now and March 5th. Obviously a UFA at the end of the season – your prototypical rental player and a guy that fits in well salary-wise. And he’s a good player by the way. So we know the LA Kings, he’s a guy that they’re targeting among their UFA rentals. The Ottawa Senators also view Matt Moulson as a great fit if they stay in the playoff race and if the price is right, they would like Matt Moulson to come to their team as well.”
Given the obvious connections and relationship new Buffalo GM Tim Murray has with the Senators organization, you can understand why Ottawa would be linked to a Sabres player who fits a need.
But, in a situation in which the market for Moulson’s services would be sizeable, especially with true Cup contenders loading up for a run and being more likely to give up future assets, how could the Senators possibly match up as a trade partner when the team already lacks its 2014 first rounder?
Given the projected talent and depth of the 2015 draft class, it would be foolhardy on Ottawa’s part to move a prospective lottery ticket in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes when they have not demonstrated over the past two and a half seasons that they’re anything more than a playoff bubble team.
Furthermore, Tim Murray is in a situation in which he has not made his first trade. Like any new GM, he will assuredly be trying to hit a home run and in Moulson, he has one of the league’s most easily marketable commodities.
Per Capgeek, Moulson’s earning $3.9 million with a cap hit of $3,133,000. It’s a paltry sum for a player at the deadline who can easily slide in amongst a team’s top six forwards.
His suitors will line up and to beat the asking price that will undoubtedly include first round pick, Bryan Murray will probably have to package the team’s 2014 second rounder and a young player and/or prospect to entice his nephew into pulling the trigger.
But it begs the question, why would a small market organization borrow a page out of John Muckler’s playbook and expend its young assets on player who wouldn’t be under team control?
Moreover, there’s a great case to be made that Jason Spezza could or should be player management should consider moving at some point before his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2014/15 season. So with that in mind, why would the organization pay a premium on a guy like Moulson, when Spezza might not be a guy that the organization wants to build around moving forward?
For a team in a bubble situation, it probably makes more sense to make a more asset-efficient trade by acquiring a less touted player like Ales Hemsky.