Saturday, January 3, 2009

Playoff Hopes Crushed.... More Trade Rumours... And The Return Of Whitey?

There's only one word to describe that loss for the Senators and that word is "heartbreaking".

If they win that game, they'd be bragging about two straight on the road and be only 3 points behind the Leafs with all sorts of optimism heading into New Jersey on Sunday.

It started out looking like it would be a big night for the Senators. They were hitting the Leafs ... no... they were crushing them into the boards in the first period and crashing the net like the goal hungry team they should be.

The big line was humming and Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were really trying to win this one early.

The it went tits up.

Two 5 on 3's were unsuccessful and Martin Gerber let in a brutally soft goal late in the third period to Jason Blake (what a shocker).

That was enough.

With the loss, I think it might be safe to say that Ottawa is not going to storm back and make the playoffs.

Some will be calling for a massive rebuild but I think that's the wrong angle here. Ottawa has two young superstars in their prime and a captain who just signed a new contract to finish his career in town.

No, the massive rebuild has to take place on defence.

But will Bryan Murray get the chance to fix his mistakes that he made last summer?


When did Brian Lee suddenly become a real NHL player?

Lee was excellent tonight and I counted at least 3 great breakout passes to wingers on the fly through the neutral zone.

It's amazing that you end up noticing plays that are taken for granted by most NHL teams but a clean breakout pass on Ottawa is like a good Ben Affleck movie. They're few and far between.

Maybe Craig Hartsburg should get over his bizarre infatuation with the ineffective Alex Picard (who was absolutely brutal tonight, especially on the power play) and replace him with Lee on the first power-play unit.

Picard is a sorry replacement for Andre Meszaros and even when you count Filip Kuba in that trade, I still say it was a big mistake by Murray (as I pointed out at the time). Meszaros is going to be solid and skilled NHL player for years to come, long after Kuba leaves for free agency this summer (and he will) and when Picard is playing in the minors.


Trade Rumour One

Interesting bit on HNIC's Hotstove:

Ottawa was linked to Atlanta as the Thrashers are looking for some forward depth and have skilled D-man Mathieu Schneider playing third fiddle to Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey.

Schneider would be a good fit for Ottawa in the short term as he's unrestricted this summer. He could be used as an asset to trade at the deadline, especially if Ottawa is far out of the playoff race by then. But you'd have to get more than Schneider if you were to trade Antoine Vermette, the likely bait here. I never thought I'd say this but Todd White would look good in an Ottawa uniform again.

He's signed for the next two seasons at around 2.5 million which is cheaper than Vermette but with much, much more production. White's salary is also ideal money for a second line centre in today's NHL. White had great chemistry with Daniel Alfredsson back in the day and if you can get him in the Ottawa lineup, you magically have a second line that can score.

Plus, Whitey's from Ottawa and was once a fan favourite here during the Jacques Martin years. You grab him and you stop worrying about that second line for at least two years.

Trade Rumour Two

Not to stir up anymore "Vermette to Florida" rumours but the Panthers are really shallow at centre right now and have taken to using Nathan Horton there as an emergency replacement.

"Stephen Weiss missed Friday's afternoon practice because of an apparent virus. DeBoer said he hopes Weiss will be able to play Saturday. If he doesn't, Nathan Horton goes back to center. Horton worked with David Booth and Richard Zednik on Friday. With Kamil Kreps (shoulder) injured and Shawn Matthias back in the minors, Florida is hurting for centers.

''We're going to have to [play Horton at center] because we don't have a lot of options with Kreps out,'' DeBoer said. ``With Weiss out, we'll have to use him in the middle.''

Miami Herald


Anonymous said...

When Bryan Murray took over the GM job, 18 months ago, he had four puck moving defencemen. I want to know why he didn't keep at least one. I would like to see one person in the media ask him this question. Did he not anticipate that the lack of a puck mover would hurt the offence?

In an interview, before the season started, John Muckler was interviewed on one of the sports networks in Canada. I believe it was on "Off the Record", although I'm not sure. He was asked how the Sens would do in the upcoming season. He said, "We'll see how they do without Redden and Meszaros". Apparently, he saw some challenges ahead, why didn't Murray.

Now we are faced with giving up a roster player or a draft choice, in order to get back the type of player that we once had in abundance.

If Atlanta is trying to dump Schneider, that means that they are lining themselves up for the draft. Schneider is a 39 year old UFA, with a big ticket. I would not be happy if the Sens gave up anything substantial for him. They would be doing Atlanta a favour by picking up the rest of his contract.

Melnyk needs to decide if this year is a write-off or not.

If it is not, then fire Murray and Hartsy on Tuesday and bring in Pat Quinn as interim. I really believe that a new voice will have a positive effect.

This summer, I would let Kuba and Gerber walk via UFA. I would trade Smith and his $2.6M ticket. That gives us $9.3M to rebuild the D and get a goaltender. As for the goaltender, bring back Sugar Ray Emery.

Oman said...

I also agree that Schneider would be a HORRIBLE move. If they were to trade someone like Vermette, it should mean they are rebuilding -- that is, looking for young talent or longer contracts to fill strategic positions at a good price. Picking up an over-paid UFA is ABSOLUTELY the wrong thing to do. They are not contenders this year, and they should not be giving away important pieces of the puzzle for quick playoff fixes.

I don't think it is necessarily all Murray's fault that their secondary scoring and puck moving D has been eroded. In most cases, he may have been forced to play the hand he was dealt. His inability to make an effective trade early in the season to right the ship is suspect though, and if he doesn't make some moves soon to signify an effective re-build, he could be on the block.

If Melnyk was smark he'd get Murray to hire Quinn as the new coach, especially to work with young talent in a rebuild capacity. If Murray does well and they get along, that would be great. But Quinn could also take over as Coach/GM for a while if Murray has to be axed. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that though. I do think Murray is a good hockey man. It's just not clear what his plan is. Let's hope it's a good one...

Oman said...

Also, anyone scheduled for UFA that isn't needed or isn't going to sign should be shopped around heavily before the trade deadline. Don't let anyone else walk for nothing at the deadline. It's killing this team. Even if they get a third or fourth round pick for Gerber, that's better than nothing. Ottawa needs more picks and prospects!

Oman said...

Correction: Don't let anyone else walk for nothing at the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind picking up Schneider, I just don't want to give up a player like Vermette to get him. I like Todd White, but I still like Vermy's upside better.

If the Sens can get Schneider for a late round pick or a someone like Brendan Bell, go for it.

leafs rumours said...

Not a nice time to put everything in disbelief.