A quick point of interest: Sam McCaig of Yahoo Sports ranks the top 50 unrestricted free agents this summer and (soon to be ex-Senator) Anton Volchenkov is 3rd on his list, just behind superstars Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Marleau. (As for the Sens other UFA's, Matt Cullen made the list but Andy Sutton did not - something I would disagree with.)
3. Anton Volchenkov, D, Ott – A shot-blocking, bodychecking, stay-at-home stud. No offense here, which brings his price down to $5-6 million, but few defensemen are more proficient in their own zone than Volchenkov.
Not to be a pessimist, but more and more it looks like the Senators are on the verge of making a huge mistake by letting the A-Train go to another team, quite possibly to a competitor in their own conference.
Here's a question to ponder: How did Bryan Murray not get this deal done a long time ago, when Volchenkov could have been done for well under 5 million? It's not like his penchant for sacrificing his body for the sake of the team only showed up in the past season. This sort of brinkmanship negotiating worked in the cases of Chris Kelly and Chris Neil, but will it work three times in a row?
How much will Murray have to pay another player to replace Volchenkov? 3.5 million? 4 million? It's a sad thing to ponder losing your best defenseman and toughest player over what will likely turn out to be 1 million dollars or less in salary difference.
Sad indeed. But Murray has pulled deals out of the fire before. Maybe he can do it again and keep this Senators team on the right path to a possible resurgence in the Eastern Conference. Without Volchenkov, nobody is going to be worrying about Ottawa's defense core outside of Erik Karlsson.
The countdown to Draft Day and July 1st gets shorter.....
But just to get things started, the Habs trade Jaroslav Halak to the Blues for a couple of prospects. Wow.
On the surface, this looks like a horrible deal for Montreal and a steal for the Blues who were already way overstocked with average prospects picked during Jarmo Kekalainen's scouting tenure.
Does Carey Price have the kind of mental toughness to survive life as an icon on Saint Catherine street? So far, he has only shown that the local fans have gotten into his head and made him miserable at times. With all that baggage, he now has to replace a modern folk hero in Halak who carried the Habs all the way to the Conference finals on his back.
Bob Gainey believed in Carey Price and now Pierre (The Ghost) Gauthier does as well. It should be an interesting year down the highway.