Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Senators Playing For Contracts Down The Stretch

Here's a quick look at the Ottawa Senators players who will become unrestricted free agents this coming summer and their chances (going into the playoffs) of getting another contract from the team.

Chris Kelly

Kelly’s stats are down from last year but some might say that’s because he didn’t have a very defined role under John Paddock who coached most of the season. There was also a long period of time when Kelly played in place of an injured Jason Spezza in 2007 and to expect him to match those offensive numbers this year might be a little much.

Regardless, Kelly is a perfect third line penalty killer and should be kept if his salary demands don’t rise above the 2 – 2.5 million mark.

Shean Donovan

Almost a complete bust under the Paddock regime, Donovan seems to be thriving while playing under Bryan Murray’s tutelage, showing the speed and tenacity he was once known for across the league. Donovan is on pace for his lowest point total since 2000 but he will be given another opportunity to impress during the playoffs when guys of his ilk seem to matter more than in the regular season.

The jury is still out but at his salary, Donovan is a risk free signing and may stick around next year if no youngsters step up to replace him.

Randy Robitaille

The journeyman centre hasn’t even convinced anyone that he should be in the lineup every game let alone get another contract. Passive and invisible some games, Robitaille has the ability to get streaky and pop a few goals in before going away again. He is also small and shies away from physical play. He doesn’t even seem to enjoy himself out there. The only player who smiles less is Markus Naslund in Vancouver.

There is no way that Robitaille should be kept in the fold. He has probably played his way out of the league at this point.

Martin Lapointe

The ex-Red Wing brings 2 Stanley Cup rings to the dressing room and has been fairly decent in his short time with the team despite having lost about two steps since his glory days. He is still a tough player and the Senators can use more like him. Unfortunately, it looks like Lapointe’s days are done in the NHL and expect him to retire a Senator this summer.

Cory Stillman

Since coming from Carolina, Stillman has 18 points in 22 games and there’s not much more you can ask for than that. Given that Stillman has already expressed his desire to stay in Bytown, there’s a good chance that Bryan Murray will make him an offer this summer. Making just under $2 million this season, Stillman won’t be getting a large raise but he’s a good option to keep some secondary offense on this team for next season. Depending on how you rate Jesse Winchester, there isn’t any immediate offensive help on the way from the farm.

Wade Redden

Everybody is convinced that Redden is as good as gone – and they’re probably right, but there are signs that Redden may extend his stay in Ottawa. Murray has already suggested that he may try to keep him despite asking him to waive his no-trade clause twice. Redden has also shown that he wants to stay in town.

As long as that stays consistent, Redden might surprise everyone and stay right where he is. He isn’t the same player he once was but he’s not as bad as the reactionary fans claim him to be. He can still run a play from the backend but seems physically shy since the new rules came into effect a few years ago where forwards are allowed to rush into the zone unimpeded. This might be a case of “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone”. If Brian Lee continues to play well, that hurts Redden’s cause significantly.

Luke Richardson

Ottawa’s own version of Reggie Dunlop has played way better than expected but it looks like he’s beginning to wear down as the season comes to a close. The question of re-signing Luke is not even realistic. He won’t be wearing a Senators sweater next year, or any NHL sweater. Look for Luke to perhaps get into coaching, maybe even as an assistant with Ottawa depending on who comes in to take over the head job.

Mike Commodore

This is a guy the Senators should do everything in their power to get under contract, despite his penchant for underwhelming everyone thus far. He will be cheap and has always been dependable throughout his career. The Senators should be getting bigger on their back end and losing Commodore won’t help that cause. He’s a proven winner and a future fan favourite.

The only problem is that Commodore isn’t sure he can play the Senators system and has said so publicly. It probably didn’t help that all hell broke loose in the organization right after he was acquired. First impressions are significant.

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