Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oh shit or Martin Havlat is out indefinitely

Remember that worst case scenario? It’s come to fruition.

Late last night, Martin Havlat decided to go under the knife to correct his dislocated shoulder. He’ll be out of action at least three months, possibly four. Meaning, he’s out until either just before the playoffs start or right as they do.

Either way, this is a devastating blow to the Senators.

In Havlat, they had a proven 30-goal scorer as a secondary offensive weapon. When teams shut down The Line, and there will be games where they do, it would be nice to have someone who can light the lamp the way Havlat can.

Now, that’s gone. So what is John Muckler to do?

Short term, it looks like they’re going to be giving the ball to Brandon Bochenski. It’s hard to criticize that decision right now, when he’s coming off a hat trick, but we’ve come to learn that “Bo” is a streaky scorer and not someone who can be depended on for offense on a consistent basis.

So the burden shouldn’t fall solely on Bochenski. The rest of the players on the team will need to elevate their games in order to lighten the load. Bryan Smolinski has been playing a strong two-way game lately, after having started the season slowly, but he still isn’t contributing the offense they’ll need from him. Some of the guys who have been contributing, Mike Fisher, Peter Schaefer, Chris Neil will need to not only continue but kick it up a notch.

But what if that doesn’t work?

Some Senators fans have been clamoring for a legitimate second-line center since the beginning of the season. Smolinski was supposed to play that role but, again, he isn’t scoring enough to be considered a viable option. Mike Fisher is having a fantastic season and is always a force every night, but is he gifted enough around the net?

The Doug Weight rumors have been out there for a while. I’m sure the Blues would like to unload his big contract, which expires at the end of this season, and it likely wouldn’t cost a ton to get him. Getting Weight would allow them to move Fisher to the wing, a position moved he excelled in earlier in the season, and move Smolinski to the third line, where his lack of offence and defensive prowess is ideal.

Bruce Garrioach talks about some of the other options, including Todd Bertuzzi and/or Owen Nolan. I imagine getting Bertuzzi would cost too much going the other way, and could disrupt the team chemistry, and we all saw how much gas is left in Owen Nolan’s tank the last time there was hockey. Are we supposed to believe it’s any better 18 months later? Have we learned nothing from Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Mats Sundin, etc.?

There is no easy answer to this problem. It would be foolish to bring in a big new contract if the other players are able to cover in Havlat’s absence. But at the same time, Muckler shouldn’t be too reluctant to make a move if it becomes obvious the plan isn’t working.

The first test will be this upcoming Western road trip that will see the Sens match-up against a few of the Western Conference’s best teams. We might not have to wait long to see which course of action they'll take.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger ninja said...

That Mats comment is complete crap, and you know it.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

How is it complete crap? He's not scoring, and in the games I've seen, looks a speed slower than he was last season.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Andy said...

When's he getting the surgery done?

At 1:32 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

No idea. When asked, Havlat said "soon".

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I heard that Havlat is going to get the surgery done within the next 10 days. I'd guess sometime near the end of next week.

Also, don't expect any big contract guys coming in any time soon. While the Senators do have some cap room, and more now that Havlat won't count, they are under a self imposed budget and the Havlat injury won't affect that.

If I were the Senators I would do nothing for the next little while and see where you stand in the new year. Even if you go 6-6 in the next 12 games (unlikely to happen) you will still have a 27-10 record and probably still be in first place. Re-evaluate at that point. The longer you can wait, the higher priced player you will be able to afford since there will be less of the season to have to pay him. At the trade deadline you might be able to afford a guy like Weight, but not right now.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I'm unsure that we can claim that Bochenski is a "streaky scorer" quite yet. He had an excellent pre-season, and then tanked in the regular games... but the kid had some unrealistic expectations thrust upon him by all of us.

Let's see how he does taking Havlat's place before pre-judging him.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He didnt really "Tank" so to speak in the regular season, he produced just as much as other rookies that arent named Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin

At 8:50 PM, Blogger pale said...

Just noticed your side bar - should it not read
25 21 4 0 42 points

20 wins does not equal 20 points ;-)

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets not forget Marek Svatos. He's a rookie too and has just as many goals as Crosby and only 4 fewer points. He's right there just behind Ovechkin and Crosby.


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