The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
The Suggestion Box

If you’re familiar with the various Senators’ messageboards and blogosphere, odds are you’ve witnessed the backlash that the writers for the Ottawa Sun have endured lately. While most of the recent criticism has stemmed from the Sun’s coverage of Jason Spezza’s exit interview with Bryan Murray, I was intrigued by a recent article by Don Brennan because it featured this preface at the top of it that read, Due to the number of offensive comments posted with this story, the commenting function has been turned off. All comments have been removed. This should be a doozy. I look forward to revisiting it. Here we go… (Ed. note: My comments are in bold.)

Sens Should Chase Souray (Ed. note: This is the headline for Brennan’s Article.)

Yes. Yes they should. Management should pursue a player who recently cleared waivers and carries a two-year contract with a $5.4 million cap hit per annum.

Bryan Murray is not attending Mike Fisher’s wedding this weekend.

Wait, what does this have to do with Sheldon Souray? Absolutely nothing. The name dropping of Mike Fisher means that it increases the likelihood that someone will find Brennan’s article via Google. More site traffic = more ad revenue. I should try to get in on this metadata information. Let me try: Carrie. Underwood. Mike Fisher. Honeymoon. Video. Parfait. (Ed. note: Speaking of the Fisher/Underwood union, what’s the number of articles featuring the same tired Princess Leia outfit jokes? I think the line’s at 45,414,102.5)

“I don’t want to see my players happy,” the GM said jokingly.

Some would argue that neither does the Sun.

Murray does, however, want to put a smile on the face of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, and in an effort to do that he must continue to focus on ways of making his team better.

Wait… when does Souray become part of this better equation?

No matter what he says publicly, you know Melnyk’s patience has to be running thin after three years of failing to get beyond the first round of the playoffs. As well it should.

Conference semi-finals or bust!

The most glaring need right now is for at least one rugged defenceman. The Senators improved July 1 when they essentially traded Anton Volchenkov for Sergei Gonchar on the free-agent market. But when they also lost Andy Sutton, their blue line turned soft as a cooked noodle.

After mentioning that Ottawa improved itself by replace a “rugged player” with one who’s more talented, I’m supposed to believe that the team still needs one of those players who has those “intangibles” that writers love to talk about. Yes, intangibles that are completely subjective and unmeasurable. Right. Ottawa needs this guy.

Matt Carkner will continue to provide pop with his punchers and Chris Phillips is strong along the boards. But for the first time in eight years, they don’t have an open-ice hitter on the back end. They have three fancy pants in Gonchar, Erik Karlsson and Filip Kuba and two others (Brian Lee, Chris Campoli) no one would ever call physical players.

Calling Filip Kuba a fancy pants might just be the nicest thing that Brennan has ever said about the guy. Oh and poor Brian Lee. I mean, the young lad no longer has a number.

“I’d like to add one more player,” Murray said at Friday’s news conference to introduce Gonchar. “Maybe (he’s) in the organization. Watching Jared Cowen playing in the development camp, we may already have a defenceman who can play in that more physical spot that we’re looking to fill.”

Hmmm… I wonder which part of filling a void on the roster with a younger and cheaper alternative Brennan doesn’t like?

Cowen, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder selected ninth overall in the 2009 draft, has to prove that he can handle NHL speed. More than a year after major knee surgery, he was moving well in a 3-on-3 tournament against the team’s other prospects at the Bell Sensplex last week. But that’s a little different than trying to keep up with the waterbug forwards on the Sabres and Canadiens.

I thought the Senators needed ruggedness? Now they need a defenceman who can keep up with the Stanley Cup contending Habs and Sabres? I’m so confused right now…

If he’s still worthy of a roster spot after the pre-season, Cowen could have a nine-game regular-season tryout before the Senators decide whether to send him back for a fourth season in the WHL, where he was a dominant force as a 17-year-old.

And what a test that would be, as Cowen’s stint would include the Sabres and Habs twice each, as well as Alex Ovechkin and the Caps and Sidney Crosby and the Pens.

All teams that would expose Ottawa’s perceived lack of ruggedness on the blueline. Duly noted.

Even if Cowen is able to stick, the Senators could stand some more bulking up on defence.

I agree. Consider yourself on notice, Erik “The Machinist” Karlsson.

There’s still some muscle available on the free-agent market in Sutton, Willie Mitchell — and maybe even Shaone Morrisonn falling into the category — but Murray currently doesn’t have enough cap space for them.

Sutton and Mitchell are aged 35 and 33 respectively. Both are likely headed for their last significant “payday” and Mitchell, in particular, has had to deal with serious concussion problems. More importantly, why overpay to bring in a guy like Morrisonn as a 5th or 6th defenceman when there’s already a cheaper alternative in Carkner on the bottom pair?

He has a little more than $3 million (all terms US) to work with and he’s got Peter Regin and Campoli filing for arbitration and Nick Foligno still in need of a new contract. He also wants to have some wiggle room to protect his team against injuries.

So what better way to protect his team against injuries than by spending $5.4 million in cap space on one player who had 29 other teams pass on him via waivers.

He’s also got too many players — and that’s why Murray needs to make a trade.

Murray will wait to see what he has money-wise once Regin, Foligno and Campoli are done and then he’ll have to do some serious shopping.

Finally, Brennan’s starting to make some sense…

If I’m him, I’d be sitting down again with Steve Tambellini in Edmonton.

… So much for that. For the record, if I’m Bryan Murray, I’d save myself the air miles and place a phone call instead.

The Oilers are getting rid of Sheldon Souray — he cleared waivers last Saturday — and, with that big booming shot and his toughness, he’d look good in a Senators jersey.

Souray is a $5.4-million cap hit for the next two seasons, however, and was limited last season to 37 games after breaking his hand and suffering a post-surgery infection. But he’s also proven to be an offensively dangerous defenceman.

I feel that something’s brewing. Like this is building up for Brennan to talk about one of his favorite targets…

Kuba, a veteran who moves the puck well and is decent defensively, is not a physical player and, with the arrival of Gonchar, is very much expendable. Or redundant, as someone put it Friday. With a cap hit of $3.7 million, the Oilers would be lightening their load in a swap for Souray. Ottawa would have to throw something else into the pot — at least $1.7 million worth of assets, in fact — and the Oilers have room for it, as they are more than $14 million under the cap.


And why throw something else into the pot for Souray? A player that they could have had for nothing?

Would you trade Kuba, Lee, and maybe a Nick Foligno or a Kuba, Campoli and Ryan Shannon for Souray? Or maybe Kuba, one other player and a draft pick?

It would have made more sense to claim Souray and then move Kuba/Campoli/Shannon for draft picks.

Would Murray?

God, I hope not.

Who knows, but the Senators did get better with the addition of Gonchar and they’d make another dramatic improvement by acquiring Souray, too.

Right. Because who would have thought that by moving a rugged defenceman in Volchenkov for a more skilled and complete alternative, the team would actually become better?

That result would surely put a smile on the owner’s face.

Or cause moderators at The Sun to shut down the comment section at the mere suggestion.