Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Notes


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:

Chris Phillips
Anton Volchenkov
Victor Hedman
Erik Karlsson
Brian Lee
Jason Smith

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.

***

Notes

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."

25 comments:

laconicsenator.blogspot.com said...

I am a little worried about hedman as he has already had a concussion or two and some shoulder problems.......

Anonymous said...

Im just thinking out loud here, but say Ottawa ends up tanking the rest of this season and end up with either the #1 or #2 overall pick. Now I know this organization is missing some top level prospects, but I'd be curious to see what other teams would offer up for either pick. Trading the First or Second overall pick could lead to this team rebuilding quite quickly ala Flyers of last year. I know both Tavares and Hedman are being touted as players of their generation, but we've all heard that before with promising draftees. With a core of Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson, Fisher, Phillips, Volchenkov, Karlsson and Lee, maybe they could surround these guys pretty nicely with the return the #1 or #2 overall pick would fetch and be back to elite status quite quickly...

Mickey said...

I think Alfredsson is the most important factor in all of this. Can the team contend in the next two years without alfredsson playing at the level he did in 06-07? Dont get me wrong, I love the guy to death. but im not sure how big a factor he can be next year, much less two years from now. The choice of whether to go for it now or rebuild this team is definately complicated by his health. Im skeptical about trading away the teams future for one last kick at the can. Can this team really do it? If you are going to pass on one of these potentially great players, youd better have a damn good chance at the cup. In reality, with two first round picks in this years draft, they are setup pretty well for rebuilding.

Was Philedelphia really a contender last year or was pittsburg just the only good team in a bad eastern conference? While they are a contender now, They have young players, Alfredsson is not in his prime anymore. Comparing this teams situation to philly's that year is a pipe dream, remember that young line they had with carter, richards and umberger? Not many people noticed them. They had good young players and plenty of cap room. Ottawa has niether.

Anonymous said...

Spezza & Heatley & Alfredsson vs Carter & Richards & Gagne is a pretty good battle. Philly has also mixed in a high end contract of Knuble where Ottawa has Fisher . The big difference is how Philly was able to acquire guys like Coburn, Timonen, Hartnell and Upshall for Forsberg and Zhitnik. Cap space is a bit of an issue in Ottawa, but getting Gerber off the books will be a big factor. Murray has been responsible with his UFA spending thus far...

Anonymous said...

Mickey, you can't do much about Alfie, even if you wanted to. He is 36 years old and has been just re-signed for 4 more years at a $5M plus. As good as Alfie is, I think that contract would be very difficult to move. Players that are 35 and over, cannot be bought out.

That being said, I would not want to move Alfie. He'll be fine. His heart is in Ottawa, and I'm sure that when the team starts to turn, Alfie will rev up with it. He is built for this franchise. As long as he stays in Ottawa, his contract will be considered good value.

Anonymous said...

I think that it has become obvious, throughout the hockey world, that Murray is the problem.

Murray and Hartsy have no answers, that's why they recycle the same crap over and over again. The reason they have no answers, is due to the fact that no matter what they try, the players are not responding. They do not believe in their coach and GM. The only way to fix that is by dismissing the coach and GM.

In the past, when the Sens changed the GM, it was no big deal. The Sens had a stable organizational culture that was like a well built automobile. Every part was replaceable. Murray has rebuilt the car with his own custom built parts. The assistant GM is his nephew. The scouting department are his guys now. If you fire Murray, it has bigger implications.

Murray has messed up the hockey team, but he has also ensured that his removal is a more difficult decision. Still, he has to go.

In the mean time, bringing in a strong coach like Pat Quinn or Pat Burns would make Murray want to leave voluntarily.

On a more positive not, I also thought that Brian Lee looked good. He clearly displays an offensive comfort that is lacking in the defence corps. I'm optimistic about his prospects.

As far as Tavares and Hedman, let's not forget that it we take Murray at his word, we could have had both. Last summer, Murray said Tampa was about to give Mez an offer sheet, that's why he arranged a trade. If he let the offer sheet happen, we would have got Tampa's 1st round pick this year. That pick is looking more and more like a lottery pick. We could have had two lottery picks. Imagine that, Tavares and Hedman.

Instead, we are going to get San Jose's pick, likely to be the last pick in the first round.

Anonymous said...

The moment you bring in a strong coach like Quinn or Burns, Bryan Murray will be further exposed.

Neither of these guys would play Gerber. Picard would see his ice time reduced and Winchester might find himself in the pressbox.

In short, they wouldn't play guys just because Murray wants them played.

True Thread said...

I guess Ottawa fans are projecting their blame, after all some of them wanted Redden gone. Yet Redden has shown how much he contributed to the team, as while he was there, there was still some hope for the team. Since he has been gone the team has taken the worst nose dive with no coming back.
Pity Eugene put all his trust in those whom were supposed to honour their roles instead of letting their ego's get the better of them.
Maybe the solution is to bring Redden back along with other key players.

You see the fans are never satisfied, Alfreddson has been amazing for the team and once he slips up the fans and coaches paint him as a the worst contender. Golly gee where is the loyalty.

The team would have won the Stanley Cup a year or two after the first loss, yet were never given the chance as they got rid of Jaques Martin and other players, had they had held it together way back then we would have had the Stanley Cup by now, so I guess you could say, the management are lying in the bed they made.
Intead of believing and working together they threw a valuable team away and now they are paying the price. Winless in how many games?
Resurection time, maybe a reunion time and bring back Redden and some other key players. Then we may see a turn around.
God Bless those discarded Sens.

After all Redden has done, the Fans should be ashamed for booing Redden. But Like I said, they are projecting their lost causes by letting him go.
Redden was definately an important thread which held the team together and thus it now is proven.
Thanks Reds.

Oh Sens Oh, in the land of Woe, where for art thou Sens...
Will they Rise Again?

Maybe the management and the team need to work together instead of against each other as each contains his own magic, and one without the other defeats its' purpose.

Anonymous said...

Redden should not have been booed. That was embarassing. He did a lot for the franchise and did not want to leave. The fans showed no class last night.

Andrew said...

Agreed, booing Redden is total garbage. Its unreal how quick some people forget. Its gutless and gives real, LOYAL Sens fans a bad name.

Oman said...

I understand the appeal of Hedman and the chance to build a mini team Sweden in the Sen's roster... And no no one would want to miss the chance to miss the chance to draft the next Lidstrom.... but how could you pass up the chance to draft the next Gretzky/Yzerman? Tavares is the real deal. Any team that doesn't pick him if they have the chance will seriously regret it. And think about the publicity/ticket sales...

Jalen said...

Clarification - I don't think we could've gotten T-Bay's first this year by virtue of their signing Mesz to an offer sheet. To do so, they would've needed all three of their own 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks, but they traded their 3rd to Pitt who were not willing to trade it back knowing T-Bay wanted it to sign an RFA.

Perhaps BM should've insisted on T-Bay's 1st instead of the SJ pick, but he liked Picard who admittedly does have some potential despite his inconsistent play this year.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

The Sens would take Hedman in a heartbeat. They need D, not elite scorers; Stamkos is a supposed elite forward who is tanking, where with Ds there isn't as much pressure on numbers; Hedman is Swedish, and plays with Karlsson. There's no way they go with Tavares.

Having said that Hedman is not supposed to be as good as some of the top drafted D in last year's draft. Bogosian, et al.

Anonymous said...

Jalen, you're right that Pittsburgh owned Tampa's third pick, and therefore an offer sheet was not a possibility. But, Murray is quoted in the Globe and Mail, shortly after the trade, saying that the reason he decided to trade is that a $5M offer sheet was on the way and he decided that he would rather fulfill needs rather than get picks.

So, if you take him at his word, there was an offer sheet. That was his stated rationale for the trade.

Here's where it gets interesting. If you read Tom Benjamin's Hockey Blog, he says that there was no offer sheet. As you correctly stated, Tampa was missing their 3rd round pick. Tom Benjamin contends that the threat of a $5M offer sheet was fiction created by Murray to paint Mez as greedy. He contends that Murray leaked the story to Adam Proteau. In effect, he used Proteau.

You see, if the fans in Ottawa have this idea that Mez wants $5M, they will hail Murray as a hero for getting at least something for a greedy guy. Without the fiction of a $5M offer sheet, the fans might get pissed at the idea of getting so little for Mez.

As it turned out, Mez signed for $4M over 6 years not $5M. Isn't that strange? Why would Mez have settled for $1M less than what would have been offered?

Also if you look at his deal, he is getting $2.5M this year, $3.25M next year, then $4M, $4M, and $4.75M. In other words, that deal is not greedy. It is not front-loaded like many deals signed today (i.e. Fisher, Heatley). In fact, it would have ensured that Phillips was still the highest paid d-man on the Sens for the next two years. That is a fair contract.

This means is that if you take Murray at his word, we could have had Tampa's lottery pick this year. If you do not, then he is lying. Maybe that helps explain the team's poor performance. Maybe the players know that the Ray Emery fiasco was overblown and that Murray made up a story about Mez getting an offer sheet. Maybe they are just sick and tired of the way he runs a hockey team.

Canucnik said...

Anon@6:55 "Very Interesting!"... "Very Interesting!" I don't think anyone lied; one just had to make the situation look to have no alternative. Another classic example of thinking you are dealing from strength as you weaken your position. The big guns were all signed and sealed, they all could look down on the outstanding contractors from a position of comfort. Mgmt thought they had enough goal tending with the addition of Auld to drag Gerbs though his last year. Meszaros was in the dog house for #6's play and he was going to ask for too much money (Also for telling Schub how good a defenceman he was (is) last year). So we get Picard and Kuba and early it looks like we are going to muddle through. We were not,,, GM/BM is given the freeze then the squeeze... #21 has infected the kids; #55 is really feeling the pressure; Philly looks like he's been doing too much wood working with his hands (been known to happen, many sports); Volchenkov"s rebound control goes south and we are done like dinner. Which brings me to Brian Elliot, I want someone's neck on the line (Asst. Defencive coach, GM/BM, Head coach, one of 'em) as in "We are going to make a NHLer out of this man, right here, right now. I want someone to take responsibility for this decision (This one could make or brake the francise, maybe not, but it's big). "Rebound Control" as in "I'm going to wear my big baggy hockey shirt for the game @ Windsor Park and hope the puck hits me and falls to my goal skates to be frozen!" or Brian Elliott makes a split second decision not to flash the leather but to let the puck hit his big bulky sweater and cover it with a lightning trapper; or "I shall kick this one in the corner and hope that 33 does not turn the wrong way again."

Anonymous said...

Tavares is good, but he isn't ovechkin or crosby. He's not fast enough. I hope if given the choice BM takes Hedman. But, if they take tavares, they could finally move fish and his ridiculous contract. I'd love to see them get Hedman, and another top 10, maybe they could score Kane with that one. Then we'd be laughing in 2 years. Won't happen, but it would be nice.

Jalen said...

Anon 6:55pm

I've read Benjamin's blog. I think all this stuff about BM lying and manipulating Proteau is smoke.

Frankly, here's just a guess that would explain a lot.

T-Bay's missing 3rd rounder does not mean there couldn't have been an offer sheet, it only means that the offer sheet could not be signed and submitted to the league without T-Bay owning that pick. We know from several sources that T-Bay was trying to negotiate with Pitt to get that pick but Shero didn't want to, in essence, support an offer sheet to an RFA (most GMs feel the same way).

Given their efforts to get the pick back, it's very likely that an offer was discussed and negotiated between Mesz's reps and T-Bay. Whether it was put into a formal offer or not is moot. There could have been an agreement in principle on terms without a formal contract offer.

The point is, T-Bay established a value for Mesz that BM didn't agree with. It's possible that value was $5M to make it hard for BM to match and then Mesz ended up taking $4M to get add'l contract term or maybe it was always $4M. Given they wanted him, why wouldn't T-Bay tell Murray they would offer Mesz $5M? That seems more likely to me than the theory BM made up the $5M to make Mesz look greedy.

In any event, it doesn't matter, whatever the value, it was more than BM wanted to pay (frankly, I think Mesz's contract is too rich given his performance over his last two seasons here).

I don't understand why anyone thinks BM needed to manipulate the public. That makes no sense to me. He knew he needed a PMD and I think he clearly wanted to keep Mesz, just at (what he considered) the right price.

All that is just conjecture, but a scenario that would explain a lot of what happened.

My point is, if BM is to be criticized for that deal, it should be related to his decision to take Picard and SJ's 1st instead of T-Bay's 1st.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Jalen, Bryan Murray's whole mode of operation is to use the media to manipulate the public.

Last year, on the Satellite Hotstove, Pierre LeBrun talked about how he had a "man crush" on Bryan Murray due to the skill with which he uses the media.

Look at the drama and chaos surronding the team since Murray has taken over. We never had this much internal strife surrounding the team. It's one thing after another.

Even when Yashin was causing problems years ago, there was no big drama. The issue was that he wanted more money, and the team wanted him to honou his contract. There was no uncertainty. Everyone knew the issues. No drama.

Contrast that with Ray Emery. Murray says he was a distraction. I've heard Phillips say that he was not a distraction at all. Mez has said, in the Ottawa Citizen, that everyone liked him. Why the confusion? Was he a problem or not? Ther were rumours of drug abuse. Well then, if true, let's get him some help. That is the protocol in the NHL.

In my view, from day 1, Murray's objective has been to remake the roster in his own image. He dose not care about the history, tradition, and past successes of the Sens. One player at a time, he wants that team to be guys that he brought in. He makes of stories, then leaks them to the media, in order to make it easier to get rid of guys that were not "his guys".

Look at how he has consistently defended Gerber, up until now. Look at how he let's others hang out to dry. Look at how Brian Lee was not getting an opportunity until recently, and yet Picard (who should be in the AHL) gets lots of icetime.

His latest attempt is to deflect the team's impending failure to reach the playoffs on the media. Yesterday, he actually told the media "that you so-called experts predicted we were a playoff team". As if he bears no responsibility for making that happen.

Canucnik said...

Jalon/Anonymous: You gentlemen will have to split it down the middle. GM/BM is not without sin on this one but is not Anon's "evil genius" either. The problem: Summer of 07, Andrej (and his agent in preliminary negotiations) is not being the good soldier and taking some resposibility for #6's poor season (negotiating tactic) and he wants a new contract (not just play out the old one) that is out of sinc with Ottawa's pay scale for defencemen, plus he has been speculating with Schub about how well they are going to play together (More $ all around). Tampa's offer comes out of left field (they have clearly over valued Mez) GM/BM realizing now he needs some bodies does a decent deal (#45;#17 & BIG PICK) but he must make it look like he really didn't want to loose #14 so he says "I had no alternative!" Brian Murray did very well in a bad situation. The GM is the most powerfull job in hockey, a good one can tie his owner up in intrigue and bring him along like an obdient child, ditto for the players. The Free agent that no one talks about... I still cannot believe that aquisition! One thumbs up; One thumbs down.

Anonymous said...

Tavares will probably be a great player, but for now, his skating is suspect. That said, I'd love to have him, but the Sens, with their currnet roster, need Hedman more. That could change with the changes that are going to take place.

Jalen said...

Anon 1:22pm

Please, you're taking Lebrun's comments entirely out of context. He was talking about BM's use of the media to deflect pressure from his club and put it elsewhere including the opposing team. He's to be commended for that, not criticized. In all the years Jacques was behind the bench, fans screamed for a coach with that ability.

If you really believe Rayzer was universally liked and respected by his teamates, your terribly misinformed. As much as some guys liked him, they were all frustrated by him. Do you really expect a class guy like Phillips to criticize him anywhere you might hear? FWIW, I was and am a Rayzer supporter.

I agree with you that BM wanted the roster made over in his image - isn't that what all GM's do? As far as respecting tradition, didn't he just sign Alfie for life? Give local favourite Fisher an long term deal? Come on.

Finally, you take issue with his shot at the media yesterday? Good grief, if the media continually wrote about your impending demise, you wouldn't take a shot or two at them? I thought it was funny (and so did most of the media).

Ask yourself why BM needs to manipulate your perception to do what he wants. Why would he base a single hockey decision on what you think? He needs only the support of one guy, and that guy isn't posting here.

You can dislike him if you want, but base your opinion on his performance as GM. To do that, you'll have to remove your rose-tinted glasses. He's made mistakes for sure, but he's done some very positive things, too, and more importantly, IMO he's as capable as any GM to execute our rebuild at the deadline and upcoming draft.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Jalen, my opinion on Murray is based ENTIRELY on his performance. We are second from the bottom in the league.

May I suggest that you remove the rose-tinted glasses.

Canucnik said...

"Pressure to break in!" Big pressure to break in as a "Scoring Forward"; Emmense pressure to break in as a recalled "Defenceman" when you are going to have to cary an over the hill partner who put you in the "A" to start with; "Extreme pressure" to come up to a 29th place team (worst offence/you cannot miss even one) and be their #1 goalie (We are getting nervous for him just thinking about it). "Nice" pressure is when you are an energy guy as big (thick) as someone like for example that guy Eastwood.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:21 pm-- BM is even manipulating Gerber's demise. He hasn't even talked to the man yet, although he is playing Elliott for the 2nd time, and is allowing the fans to eat him alive. Way to treat your players, Murray. As if an AHL'er can walk right in mid-season and save the day. Time for a new GM. Murray is desperate to blame anyone other than himself.

Canucnik said...

Thoughts: Remember (1) Alex Auld's debut games.(2) Carolina is as bad as we are. (3) Ward could be forshadowing Brian Elliot's future, a great young goalie playing behind a brutal old defence corp, knowing one mistake is fatal.(4)Elliot's glove preceeds him, the Caines stick side shot him all night (13 shots in the first, nice goaltending on a fragile team). Superb rebound control probably saved himself 5-6 more shots. (5) #21 kept his record in tact, no even his fault, but he just seems to be too close to the goaltender. (6)The puck seemed to lay better on the ice tonight both teams?? (7)#55 took too many hits tonight but he's comin', improving every game.(8) We know Schubert is done and Bell is on the outs, would I ever like to see the defenceman's coach pair them for one game (We project it would be shocking how good they would be) it's a two game trial for the goalie why not the defence also.(9) Too loose tonight, is the white towel in the middle of the ring (Just venting).