Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman posted his latest 30 Thoughts column yesterday and to the delight of the Senators’ faithful, it contained some blurbs that pertained to the Ottawa Senators.
Without further ado…
11. Interesting comments from Bryan Murray as he signed his contract extension with Ottawa. Murray indicated the Senators are all-in like Chris Moneymaker at the World Poker Championships, and it makes sense with Bobby Ryan and Jason Spezza unrestricted in the summer of 2015. But, in the moves he's tried to make this year, it's been pretty clear they didn't want to add salary. Back in the playoff race, we'll see how this changes.
The Senators could always extend this window of contention, but I think the concern with Ottawa’s rebuilding plan from the outset, was that there was never going to be much of an overlap between this team’s veterans and this team’s young and developing core.
Whether it’s diminishing returns, injuries plaguing many key vets or guys hitting free agency, the possibility of guys like Ryan, Spezza, Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot or even a Craig Anderson, walking at the conclusion of their deals has to be concerning.
I don’t want to pessimistically dismiss the possibility that Ottawa can correctly identify and actually re-sign the right players, but if Bryan Murray believes their contract status might impact this team’s ability to contend in the near future, that has to be a bit disconcerting on some level. Granted, this could simply be the reaction of a GM who looks at a shitty Eastern Conference and believes it’s there for the taking.
Will it be?
Just like the deals, Bryan Murray’s prepared to make and fans are ready to evaluate and analyze, everything remains to be seen.
12. Murray stated Curtis Lazar is an untouchable, "right now." You have to figure two other impressive youngsters, Cody Ceci and Robin Lehner, are too. They don't have a first-rounder this year. If an impactful young player stands between them and getting the player they want, who would Ottawa deal?
And this is the rub, isn’t it?
Management and ownership can spin their ball of yarn about the want the media to relay the message that the Senators are open for business, but the reality of the situation is that teams are going to be calling the Senators asking about guys like Curtis Lazar or a number of the team’s better young players who are already on the parent roster.
Eugene Melnyk even threw out the line that the organization is brimming with prospects who should be in the NHL this season or next, but won’t be because they are blocked by players on the current roster.
Perhaps there are some players on the Binghamton roster who could play and perform in the NHL, guys like Stephane Da Costa, Derek Grant, David Dziurzynski, Mark Borowiecki, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman have already seen some limited time. Others like Matt Puempel and Shane Prince and Freddy Claesson, should get there eventually, and I’d love to see Andre Petersson get a chance at some point, but in the case of many of these players… they’re the kinds of players with high floors and lower ceilings or at least ceilings that might be difficult to fulfill.
Players like Hoffman and Da Costa have already cleared waivers this season. Teams could have absorbed their salary and contracts without having to give up anything in return. Mark Borowiecki projects as a bottom pairing or depth defenceman and it’d take more than a Puempel or a Prince or a Petersson to acquire the kind of asset(s) that would be able to put this team over the top.
Frankly, given the circumstances, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear Bryan Murray talk post-NHL Trade Deadline and discuss how the asking prices were too high and that the Senators could not mortgage the future for a short-term fix.
14. Murray was asked if he would try to bring any hockey operations staff from Ottawa to Buffalo. "It's a tough one for me," he said. There are a couple of guys he likes, but "the Senators were good enough to give me permission in-season to come here" and he doesn't want to burn them. So, we'll see how it plays out.
In an interview on TSN 1200, Luke Richardson mentioned how he had talked to Tim, but moving on to the Buffalo Sabres was never broached. It couldn’t be either, unless the Sabres actually had Ottawa’s consent to speak to him about the job.