Tuesday, August 23, 2005

These are the Days Of Our Lives

So Marian Hossa is signed. Three years, $18 million. He'll be paid $5 million, $6 million, and $7 million each year, but as per the new CBA, the contract is averaged out as far as counting against the cap.

As you can see, the team is not in great shape. Obviously, this number is not exact, and could go a few hundred thousand either way, but I think it's a pretty good approximation based on numerous media sources. Unless they don't carry at least one alternate at every skater position, then they're dangerously close to the cap.

As the Hossa situation escalated, and it looked like they were going to be paying him more than the team had originally intended, the rumors that the Senators would be trading one of their two defencemen eligable for unrestricted free agency next summer heated up, and the name brought up as the likely victim was Wade Redden.

Last week, GM John Muckler tried to squash those rumors by confirming that he and his right hand man Peter Chiarelli had approached Redden's agent Don Meehan about an extension. It was expected they would do the same with the other UFA possibility, Zdeno Chara.

However, now that we know exactly how much Hossa is getting, let's not kid ourselves. Despite what John Muckler says, it could happen, and if he's not at the very least exploring that possibility, he's not much of a GM.

A popular school of thought among Senators fans is that the team should trade one of the other players to make cap room. Greg de Vries, Bryan Smolinski and Vaclav Varada are all names commonly brought up. None make huge money, but a few million here or there helps.

However, even if this created room for this season, it still doesn't resolve the issue we will be facing next year. Because, in addition to Redden and Chara being UFAs, both Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza will be restricted free agents. I'm expecting both will have fantastic years, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and say both will crack the top 20 in scoring this year. Spezza will earn a little more than $1 million, while Havlat will make $2.6 this coming season. Both will be line for massive raises, and the team likely won't be able to afford it. The year after that, Chris Phillips, who's been improving every year, will be able to be a UFA.

As well, goaltending might be an issue. Again. I know, I know. Dominik Hasek has no contract for past this year. So we'll likely need a starting goalie. While I would like to think Ray Emery will be ready by then, the thought of putting someone who hasn't proven himself as a starter into that slot scares me just a little bit. If Emery's not able to step in, they'll have to go elsewhere, and won't have much money to do so.

So what do the Ottawa Senators do? I really don't know for sure. I only write a blog, after all. I assume they pay Muckler the big bucks to know though. But I know what feels right to me.

A few weeks back, I argued passionately that unless they can get something of value now (meaning, not prospects), then trading Redden should not be in the cards. He's too good a player, and whatever success the team will have this season is highly dependant on his play.

The Senators have looked to next year, or the year after that, for as long as I can remember. This has been a team eternally looking towards the future. In some ways, that's to be commended. It's smart to be aware of where you're going.

That said, where they were going is where we are now. The team is among the top clubs in the league, and at the very least has to be considered one of the the favorites to hoist Lord Stanley in June.

To dismantle this team, even slightly, by removing a vital piece of the puzzle would be devastating. As would losing Redden for nothing in the off season, but at some point you have to roll the dice, don't you? Realize that you're a better Ottawa Senators team with Wade Redden than you are without him and decide that this is the year.

Because, odds are, whatever player we do lose is only the beginning, and slowly, this team will begin to fall apart. With the new CBA, it's impossible to keep a contender together. Not unless players are willing to take less money, and apparently, no one in Ottawa is, regardless of how much they moan about loving the city in the press. I'd hate to be a mediocre team five years from now and not have a Stanley Cup banner hanging from the rafters to show for all those years of developing players who will by then be having success with other teams.

The time is now.


At 12:54 PM, Blogger Don said...

Indeed - this is the year.

And it's pretty much all riding on Hasek - if they lose him they'll be in quite the pickle.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

He'll be 41 by the time the playoffs come as well. Oh dear.

I wouldn't mind seeing some tweeking done though. Jason York has said he wanted to play for the Senators again, and would take less money to do so, so I wouldn't be opposed to unloading de Vries and signing York. I don't think there is much of a difference between the two of them. Certainly not a million dollars anyway.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Don said...

Are you sure about the averaging out of the contract wrt the salary cap?

At 1:38 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

90% sure, yes.

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous darthsens911 said...

Next year….

Hossa $ 6.0 million
Alfredsson $ 4.9 million
Volchenkov $ 1.3 million
Fisher $ 1.5 million
Havlat $ 3.0 million
Reddon $ 4.5 million
Chara $ 4.5 million
Spezza $ 2.5 million
Emery $ 0.7 million
Schaefer $ 1.0 million
Phillips $ 2.1 million
Vermette $ 1.1 million
Mezaros $ 0.7 million
Kaigorodov $ 0.9 million
Eaves $ 0.5 million
Varada $ 1.2 million
Guard $ 0.5 million

Total $ 36.9 million

Leaving $ 2.1 million (assuming the cap stays at $39 million next year) for two 4th line wingers, and a third line defenceman.


Havlat – Spezza – Alfredsson
Hossa – Vermette – Eaves
Schaefer – Fisher – Varada
??? - Kaigorodov - ???

Chara – Philips
Redden – Volchenkov
Mezaros - ?????


Still some gaps, but looks like a decent enough line-up…goaltending being the only real question mark. I think Guard should be ready for the number one spot next year if Emery doesn’t pan out for the position, but still a fairly big question mark.

In my opinion, trading Hossa before the season starts is the best option. This will show the players that they will be dealt if they will not sign for reasonable amounts. We don't need that much firepower since we have tons already and anyone with a reasonable amount of talent can flourish in points with this team. Bring in some one who will fit the play off puzzle better and win the cup without our greed pig Hossa. He has set a precedent that will be very tough to break for the future point getters on this team.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger just'cuz said...

Any reason the Sens haven't posted the Hossa contract on the Sens web site?

At 2:09 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Most teams don't disclose contract figures like that. But it's come from a handful of sources (Sportsnet, CP, TSN, Team 1200). I'd say it's accurate, though of course I'd hope not.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger just'cuz said...

I finally had time to read your full comment.

"To dismantle this team, even slightly, by removing a vital piece of the puzzle would be devastating. As would losing Redden for nothing in the off season, but at some point you have to roll the dice, don't you? Realize that you're a better Ottawa Senators team with Wade Redden than you are without him and decide that this is the year."

I think Mr. Muckler rolled the dice when he signed Hasek and replaced Jacques Martin.

This team didn't win the cup in 2002-03 nor in 2003-04; trading Chara or Redden would certainly appear to make the team weaker but who is to say that Pothier or Volchenkov wouldn't improve with more ice time. The core of the team hasn't proven that it can win in the playoffs, so why not make a major adjustment by trading one of the core players. (I do not think Lalime was the reason we lost to New Jersey in game 7 in 2003; we couldn't beat Brodeur when we had the chances. So that, a goaltending change doesn't guarantee success.) I would suggest trading Hossa but most contending teams won't have room under the cap for his 3-year $18 million contract. That leads us back to one of the core defencemen, since we also need to dump salary, Chara and Redden are the logical choices.


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