Saturday, January 30, 2010
Sens Better Off Skipping Trade Deadline Day
For NHL fans, the trade deadline day can be like Christmas all over again in March. It may be a drag to see your team do nothing when it seems like everyone around you has improved, but Senators fans may end up thanking GM Bryan Murray for acting like a Scrooge on March 3.
Not that it would be a stunning case of inaction seeing as Murray has already warned the fans that there is no salary cap room to bring in another player without shipping similar money out. Injuries and the fact that they've kept at least one or two extra players around all season makes that a cold reality.
But let's just imagine for a moment that Murray had a little wiggle room to make a deal for a top six forward or a top four defenseman. Who would have to accept less playing time, or worse, a move to another team, to make that happen?
Let's start with the defense. The current top four of Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Filip Kuba and Erik Karlsson are going nowhere. Volchenkov is a free agent but Murray would be crazy not to resign him. Kuba has a no-trade clause and he is playing really well anyways, despite some defensive lapses that drive fans crazy once in a while. Phillips and Karlsson don't even need to be explained. Phillips is a lifer and Karlsson is the next Daniel Alfredsson for this club in about five years (yes, I said it).
You could argue that an improvement on the bottom defense pair could be in play but Matt Carkner has been a godsend and Chris Campoli is dirt cheap, which is the kind of player that every team needs to fill out a roster and still stay under a salary cap. I think it's fair to say that Campoli has been a bit of a disappointment since some envisioned him running the power-play in the near future, but he actually does provide fair service for his 600,000 cap hit. If Murray felt he needed to improve Campoli's spot, what are the chances of bringing in a player as good for the same salary? Virtually nil.
The goalies? For one, the Senators have two great young goalies already - one on a real streak in Brian Elliott and an even better one with great potential who just needs to get on a roll in Pascal Leclaire.
Good luck trying to find an impact goalie in the middle of the season anyways.
As for the forwards, there's probably a little more room for debate here, but again, bringing in an impact player may provide some short term insurance but it would only impede the progress of some young players who are now just breaking out and would also disrupt the chemistry of a team that has obviously grown close and found a common goal under coach of the year candidate Cory Clouston.
The team is deep in centres with either one of Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Peter Regin able to anchor a scoring line. Fisher has thrived this year and it would be a shame to see Regin get less minutes in favour of a hired gun. He is progressing better than anyone expected. Why mess with what's working (for a paltry 600,000 cap hit)?
Chris Kelly has been the subject of a lot of rumours but I don't see why Bryan Murray, or any fan however, would want to see the defensive specialist moved. Kelly is a core player and has quietly had an excellent season. He's likely Ottawa's most underrated player or at least in a tie with Jesse Winchester. Kelly is also a veteran who has been through the battles with Ottawa all the way down the line. He'll be even more important in a tight playoff series where it's often the little plays that make the difference.
Nick Foligno's injury may have opened up a spot on the top six but the Senators already have Ryan Shannon who has shown he can play that role, and you can't go wrong by giving Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu more ice time either.
The only player I would have no qualms about Bryan Murray replacing would be Jonathan Cheechoo. He's improved since the start of the season but still doesn't really provide anything that Shean Donovan can't do better. I think it's fair to say that Cheechoo is not going to magically regain his scoring prowess, but on the other hand, he doesn't hurt the team either. He gives you an honest effort and replacing him on the fourth line with someone else, either through a trade or with a minor leaguer like Zack Smith, will make little lasting impact on the team's fortunes this season.
Unless Murray decides to gamble and trade away a core player, there doesn't seem to be any sense in making trade deadline day an eventful one here in Bytown.
And with a team as red hot as Ottawa is right now, who would want to change anything?