It's way too early to tell if Ottawa will still be bad enough to qualify for the first or second overall draft pick this summer, but if they do, there's an interesting choice awaiting them.
If they somehow get the chance to draft either John Tavares or Victor Hedman, which way do you think they'll turn?
Tavares is the golden boy right now due to his dominating play at the World Juniors but that's just one tournament. Heading into it, it was actually Hedman who was beginning to look like the preferred choice of at least half the scouts if you believe what the press were saying at the time.
On Hedman's side is the belief that it's harder to find elite defenseman than it is to get an elite forward.
If the Senators somehow get the chance, I think they'd love to pick Hedman.
For one, he's already a buddy of Erik Karlsson, the Senators top pick from last summer and the two would be an incredible defense pairing for many years.
It's a long ways away, but if everything falls into place, the Senators could conceivably have a top-six defense core next season of:
That's not a bad setup. 3 mobile defenders and 3 stay at home guys.
It would be tough to roll into the season with 2 rookie defenseman but Hedman and Karlsson both seem destined for NHL stardom. Karlsson might also be too small to play next year, something that won't be a problem for Hedman.
On the other hand, how do you not draft a dynamic Canadian player like Tavares if you get the chance? There is no doubt that the fans would be disappointed if Bryan Murray picked Hedman over Tavares but those same fans were outraged when Karlsson was picked last year. I don't hear anyone complaining about Karlsson now that he won a batch of awards at the WJC's here in town.
My feeling is that when both Tavares and Hedman have been criticised in the past, it has been for very telling reasons. Hedman didn't play as well as expected in the WJC but there were whispers of an injury. That being said, he was praised for his leadership and was seen going around to every individual Swedish player after the gold medal game loss and shaking their hands, thanking them for playing so well. That's some promising leadership from an 18 year old.
Tavares on the other hand has been accused of just playing out the string in junior. There have been questions about where his head is at times - is it with his current junior team or is it already in the NHL? - after he and his agent tried to force his way into last year's draft despite being ineligible due to his age.
I am in no way questioning his character - likely it's just the result of an impatient agent - but I've never heard a bad word about Hedman. The guy is already living in his own apartment in Sweden doing his own cooking and laundry.
Besides, if you get the chance to draft the next Nicklas Lidstrom, how do you pass that up?
Brian Elliott played really well last night against the Rangers and Craig Hartsburg would be nuts not to give him another chance against Carolina on Tuesday.
What might be more telling however is that Martin Gerber somehow wasn't waived but only taken out of the lineup. Obviously, Murray is being overly cautious in case Elliott can't handle the pressure.
That seems a little too hard-headed. If you send Gerber down to Bingo, no one is going to claim him anyways. You could shuttle Gerber and Elliott between teams a million times before anyone even takes a sniff at Gerber. And even if he is claimed, who cares? That way you only have to pay half his salary for the rest of the season instead of his full one to sit on the bench or in the press box.
Gerber is truly the flu that just won't go away. At this rate, his jersey will be hanging in the rafters when he retires.
Murray was quoted yet again in the Ottawa Sun about what this team needs to be better.
"We know we're short a player on the blue line," said Murray. "I thought this was going to be a pretty good team. I knew that our depth had been poor, and that's something we're trying to address here, and it's obvious we're short one guy to score goals (up front). "
The thing that bothers me: How did he not know in the summer that his defense was not up to snuff? With the salary cap, trades during the season are almost unheard of. Everyone knows that you have to build your team in the summer now. Somehow, Murray thought it would be okay to gamble and that he'd fix it all up later. Now it's January and the season is all but over.
Basically, Murray went cheap on defense and goaltending and thought he could get away with it. Wrong.
Stop telling us what you need week after week and instead go out and get it.
Wade Redden was booed mercilessly every time he touched the puck last night. Can anyone tell me why? I am really starting to think that Senators fans are getting less classy by the year. I understand booing Yashin but Wade Redden? Did I miss something? Or is this town just filled with meatheads? ...... Big turnover aside last night, I think Brian Lee is really playing well right now. I was ready to give up on the youngster at one point but now I think he's going to be a big piece for the Senators going forward. That calmness he has is back and it reminds me of Redden in his better days. ....... How many lives does Craig Hartsburg have? I'm not completely convinced he needs to be fired but the results speak for themselves. He is getting virtually nothing out of this team. Regardless, Murray has already waited too long for a change to make the desired effect. If you keep Hartsburg for the rest of the year, you have a better chance at Tavares/Hedman. But you also risk your fans. Hockey under Hartsburg is not exactly exciting to watch. ...... Another risk if you fire Hartsburg is that the backlash against the players will be extreme to say the least. The media, the GM and the fans will all pile on the star players as always happens when a coach gets fired. It's a little like magic really. When the coach gets canned, all of a sudden it's not the coach's fault - it's the players. Here in Ottawa, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley will just fall short of getting shot if Hartsburg is fired. People are just waiting to pounce on these guys and they will once the inevitable happens. And Hartsy's reputation will actually be better than it deserves to be. That's Psychology 101.....
And finally, the out-of-town perspective courtesy of the Boston Globe:
"Watching the Senators disintegrate Thursday night at the Garden, couldn't help but think of how they resembled the disheveled Bruins of 2006-07 during Dave Lewis's brief turn at the wheel. The fix? The best attempt might be to swing a deal for Panthers blue liner Jay Bouwmeester in hopes that he could stabilize the back end and allow some of the skilled forwards to settle down and put the puck in the net. The Ottawa coverage around the defensive net was laughable, especially in one sequence when Phil Kessel got three cracks near the right post, even getting the time to swing in front for the third attempt."