Thursday, June 17, 2010

Deadline Day For Volchenkov Looms...


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.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my view, Gauthier can't win in this Price/Halak decision.

I think Price will end up having a better career, when all is said and done. I think that he has that special quality that a lot of great players have. He'll be a stud.

Problem is, I don't think he's ready for primetime yet. He can be effective in the right situation, like in Chicago. On a team like that, he'd be around a bunch of like-minded young guys who have fun on and off the ice. They're all at the same life stage, and they just let their talent on the ice speak for itself.

In Montreal, especially under Jacques "this is a men's league" Martin, his life off the ice, and a bunch of other nonsense will be unnecessarily analysed. I think that's what weighs on Price mentally. People make a big deal out of stuff that isn't relevant. I think it will continue to affect him for a couple of more years.

You could see a scenario where Halak performs well, Price performs not as well, the fans go crazy, the media reminds Gauthier of his mistake, and Gauthier eventually is tossed.

A couple of years after Gauthier is gone, Price turns into a stud (possibly on another team).

Volchenkov should have been signed last summer. Phillips should be signed within the next few weeks, so we don't have a similar situation next year. Also, if you get Phillips done at a good number now, it can act as a ceiling when Karlsson's contract talks open next year.

Murray did good inking Kelly and Neil, but I think he paid more than he had to, because he waited until the last minute.

Losing a 28 year old like Volch, and replacing him with a 35 year old like Sutton sends a message that is loud and clear to any UFA's in the future. Our team is a has been.

We need Volch.

Cullen is soon to be 34 years old. He's never hit 50 points in his career. You don't reward a guy for 6 playoff games.

Have we forgotten that a fifty point twentysomething year old like Peter Schaefer was deemed to be too expensive at $2M a year by Murray. Schaefer was a bust on Boston, but the point is that he fit well with the situation in Ottawa.

Now we want to give Cullen close to $3M a year as a 34 year old who has never hit 50 points. He's on the downside of his career.

Gotta keep Volch.

Dolphins Don't Scream said...

No wonder Volchenkov wants to walk... things have gotten a little too cozy if that picture is any indication.

Those two are a pillow fight away from a full scale slumber party.

Anonymous said...

Bob McKenzie is now tweeting that a Spezza deal could go down.

If this is the case, Melnyk better have the balls to veto it.

The best owners in the league are hands off, but only to a certain point. The Murray are wrecking our team.

A Spezza trade would guarantee a rebuild, which would in turn give the Murray's a few more years of job security.

Pierre said...

Anon @4:57, I too am afraid of the Murrays continuing to work here...

I wanted to touch on Jeremy's take concerning Andy Sutton.
Just do play devil's advocate, Jeremy, here are a few reasons why he might not be wanted/viable in the new NHL:

i)Head-shot rule. Sutton is BIG so he tends to lead with the upper arm/shoulder with his physical contact, resulting in a hit to the side of the head/shoulder (see Jordan Leopold). Now, would you want to lose your "D" for 5 minutes or a suspension on a more or less regular basis? A question worth asking.

ii)Age: He's 35...and the league is getting a lot younger. You have to think teams will want the fresh guys first.

iii)General skating ability/footspeed. He's not Cheechoo but he's not Shea Weber either. He's an average to slowish player, and if he gets a 2-3 year deal he'll be close to 38 at the time it ends.

iv)Waiting it out.
Just wait it out and get him for cheap once the July 1 frenzy ends.

Even though Cullen has the same age range, he seems to have more footspeed and stickhandling as well as having been on the 'Canes Cup run, no?

What do people think of the Hamhuis rights for Parent/conditional pick?

Bobby Mac is saying there's some truth to the Spezz trade rumours?

Oh bother... :(

Anonymous said...

Pierre,

It's anon @4:57pm. I don't think Sutton would be a wise signing either, because I want the Sens to compete for the Cup.

But if you're the Murrays, you are slowly trying to convince Melnyk to rebuild. It's their only hope for job security.

The Murrays have done a masterful job of slowly reducing expectations in the community. There was a time when a first round exit was a massive disappointment. Now, it's an accomplishment.

If the Murrays sign 35 year old Sutton and 34 year old Cullen, and let 27 year old Spezza and 28 Year old Volchenkov go, it's not too hard to predict what follows.

At that point we have,

Alfie 38
Kovalev 37
Sutton 35
Cullen 34
Kuba 34
Phillips 32
Fisher 30

Those are all top 6 forwards and top 4 d-men. In other words, Murray is aging the core.

Next year, you can be sure that Murray's story line will be that we need to get younger.

At that time, will the media have the balls to ask him why he made it older in the first place. It used to be one of the youngest teams in the league when he took over.

We were what Chicago is today. People are talking about a Chicago dynasty led by two young studs (Kane and Toews). Both high picks in 2006 and 2007.

We had two studs. Spezza and Heatley. Both high picks in 2000 (#2 overall) and 2001 (#2 overall).

We will never get that kind of talent again, unless we finish at the botton of the league. Add to that, that we got that talent when we were a good team. The previous management teams did a masterful job in getting those two building blocks.

Murray blew it.

Anonymous said...

Good GM's don't let top talent walk easily.

If Murray trades Spezza, and uses the "he asked for a trade excuse", someone needs to grill him about what steps did he take as a GM to make the player feel more comfortable.

The fact is, our GM makes our stars feel uncomfortable. Top players don't want to play here anymore. Aging veterans on their last legs love the retirement contracts that we hand out.