Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A whole lot of nothing

As of the time of this post, we're about 37 hours away from the NHL trade deadline.

Are you excited? I'm not.

I don't mean to come off as a Debbie Downer, because I'd love to be on board with those who stay awake at nights with visions of deals dancing in their head, but I feel as though we're

Here in Ottawa, I suspect things will go especially slow, but that hasn't stopped people from talking.

The Olli Jokinen rumor is still out there, and probably will be until 3PM Thursday afternoon. I have to wonder, though, how much of it is based in reality and how much of those rumors are just a combination of wishful thinking from Sens fans and assumption from the supposed "insiders" who, after Ottawa failed to land Doug Weight, put two and two together and concluded Jokinen was the next best thing for the Senators.

I'm all for Jokinen coming to Ottawa. It improves the team and fills one of the only holes the team has. It makes the highest scoring team in the NHL even more dangerous offensively. If he can be had for a cheap price,go for it. I just don't think that's the case.

If you are inclined to believe reports, the lack of trades both up to now and what's expected on Thurday, comes down to a divide between what the sellers want and what the buyers are prepared to give. If St. Louis wanted what they did for Weight from Ottawa (Anton Volchenkov and Antoine Vermette), what will Mike Keenan want? After all, Jokinen is a better player than Weight, the Panthers aren't as out of the race as the Blues were, and the Sens would not have to be taking on as much salary as they would've if they got Weight.

There are other names being floated around, and few of them make any sense to me.

Dallas Drake, Matthew Barnaby, or any other third line player? What's the point. The holes on this team are not going to be filled by role players. If they're going to bring someone in, it should be a top six forward who can contribute on the scoresheet, because that's the need. Ottawa's first line is set, and their third line of Peter Schaefer-Mike Fisher-Chris Neil has emerged as one of the best in the league, with all three having career seasons.

Their fourth combo, which would probably be Chris Kelly-Antoine Vermette and either Vaclav Varada or Brian McGratton, depending on what they need. Kelly has become an important role player, and Vermette, often used as trade bait by fans when playing GM online, has turned the corner with his consistency since the Christmas break.

Once Martin Havlat comes back (and by the way, are we making a big mistake in assuming a guy who's been out for four months will be able to make an impact from jump?), the second line would be something like Patrick Eaves-Bryan Smolinski-Havlat. This is where the hole is. Would Barnaby or Drake (who has 2 goals this season) be enough of an upgrade that it's worth doing?

Mark Recchi is the only name thrown out that I can see the logic of, but when he talks about how he won't agree to any deal that doesn't benefit the Penguins, you have to wonder where his heart is. Is he content playing for the worst team in the league? You'd think a guy his age would be desperate to be competitive, yet the opposite seems to be true.

Mike Comrie? When has his ever shown he can be counted on for anything other than inconsistency? The talent is there, no question, but the other intangibles won't do it for me.

Shane Doan? Wayne Gretzky loves the kid, he's the face of the franchise, and has turned his play around as of late. To get him out of the desert, Ottawa would have to send a lot back the other way, and I don't see them changing the makeup of the team that significantly.

Todd Bertuzzi? Really? This would be so nonsensical I have a hard time even believing Muckler has considered it, but if you take Bruce Garrioch for his word (and yeah, I know, that's a dangerous thing to do, but let's go nuts), Muckler has had extensive talks with Dave Nonis. Why?

For one, in Bertuzzi, you're taking on a player who just isn't what he used to be. He's living off his reputation. He shit the bed in the Olympics and has not, consistently, been a top player at all this season. Before you chalk it up to simply the Steve Moore aftermath, remember Bertuzzi only had 17 goals that season, before he assaulted Moore.

You also have to wonder what bringing in Bertuzzi would do the locker room. Muckler has talked about how the team has a pecking order, and how it's important to keep that in mind when making any trade. So why bring this mess to Ottawa?

Bertuzzi will make $5 million next season. Ottawa is a team that will have their hands full this offseason, trying to re-sign UFAs Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara as well as getting restricted free agents Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza under their own self imposed cap (spend some fucking money, please Eugene?) It doesn't make a lick of sense to bring in a contract of that size when you have those things to work out.

The aforementioned pecking order has to see Daniel Alfredsson at the top of the food chain. He'll make just under $5 million next season. Muckler has repeatedly said no player will be paid more than the captain, thus spawning the "Alfie Cap". In all likelihood, to bring Chara back, they'll probably give him a little more than that. I don't think that would upset the dynamics of the locker room too much, because he's been in the fold for four years now and most players on the team respect the hell out of the guy.

Can the same be said for Bertuzzi? He'd be an outsider.

I doubt the rumor has much truth to it, and is more than likely another case of a hack scribe with too much free time on his hands making things up to sell papers during the time when, in the past, bums like him have made their living.

The goaltending issue remains with some. For me, Ray Emery has redeemed himself tremendously with his play since the Olympic break. He was asked to step his game up and show and prove, and he's done just that. The first game back against Pittsburgh was not a strong outing, but the three games afterwards have seen Emery excel. He came to play Saturday night against the Leafs, and looked more like the guy who had me thinking he's the teams next franchise goalie at the start of the season.

Does this mean I still wouldn't be fine if Muckler brought in a Dwayne Roloson for insurance? No. If he can be had for a cheap price, then I'd pull the trigger, but it's no longer the necessity it was a week ago.

I suspect come Thursday night, the roster of the Ottawa Senators will look a lot like it did 24 hours prior, which will disappoint some, I know. But let's keep things in perspective. Even without Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Shane Doan, or Mark Recchi, this is one of the best teams in the league, and unless one of the top teams makes a blockbuster deal, I'd still put my money on this squad to take home a the Cup over any other club.

I suspect Thursday will be a long, slow day. I pity the sports network talking heads who have to get on the air at 8 in the morning. Maybe they can do a two-hour debate on whether Brokeback Mountain was robbed or talk about the merits of Crash to kill time.

Before I close, I need to apologize for the lack of updates over the last four or five days. I've had an illness in the family that has taken up a significant amount of my time.


At 9:55 AM, Blogger Andy said...

What really scares me is the "h" word.

Nobody has really talked all too much about him but... whats up with Hasek?? Will he play in a week? two weeks? two months? Ive been reading all over and cant find ANYTHING close to any kind of ETA for him. Whats up?

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I've been surprised by that too Andy. I just got back from 5 days in Vegas and was thought I'd find some kind of update since then.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Duff said...

Don't worry fellow sens fans,we have Schubert.This guy can play any position ,even nets!
Seriously,I think our rookies will be the difference in the playoffs.We have the depth and adding a middle of the roader is all we need

At 6:47 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

There is no update on Hasek. The official word is that he's out "indefinitely". There is talk that he will resume skating with the team next week, which would tell me he's about two weeks away from being game rady.

I sent an email to someone I talk to in the organization, but never got a response.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Rumour has it (from John Davidson I think) that the Hasek situation is not good and he is not healing very quickly. But who really knows with Hasek. You just never know how he is feeling or healing and throughout his career it has alway been a bit of a guessing game with him. Just ask the Red Wings who also had to deal with the will he or will he not heal dilemma.

I know some people are going to look at Ray Emery giving up 6 goals tonight and get even more worried but from the bits of the game that I saw Emery wasn't the only problem. The defense was horrible and they gave up a ton of odd-man rushes and good scoring chances.


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