Monday, June 22, 2009

The Ottawa Senators - Having The Rug Pulled Out From Under

Senators Prolegomena - The Decline And Fall Of The Ottowan Empire

It should be regarded as no accident that the Ottawa Senators' logo depicts a Roman centurion - much like Rome in the 5th Century AD, the Senators were sacked by Visigoths, and what plunder they managed to hoard, they did so at quite a cost.

In 2005-06, the Senators were favorites for the Stanley Cup - their hopes derailed by an injury to star goaltender Dominik Hasek, who had a .925 save percentage in his time in Ottawa. His replacement, Ray Emery, posted only a .900 save percentage in the playoffs, dooming the tremendous offense. Regardless, the club looked like this:




Stellar club from top to bottom. To put this in perspective, the members of the 2005-06 Ottawa Senators defense are now making a combined 26.5 million dollars, an average above $4 million per player. The bad news is that 4 of them are now playing for other teams, and the replacements for Chara, Redden, Pothier, and Meszaros have been Jason Smith, Filip Kuba, Brendan Bell, and Brian Lee. The fate that befell Ottawa and Buffalo now awaits Boston - their best players will soon get overpaid or leave Boston to poison another team's salary cap.

Yes I Am Aware They Have 3 Goalies: The Ottawa Senators continued their mystifying tradition of buying damaged goods by picking up Pascal Leclaire in a deal with Columbus. Leclaire has had one impressive season but it is hard to imagine him outperforming a goalie who could've been available for half the cost. Either Auld will be traded or Elliott sent to the minors - it's ultimately irrelevant.

2009-10 Projected Lines




What Happened To Jason Smith? Smith was less than impressive in a Senators uniform - a relic of the pre-lockout clutch-and-grab days, Smith will likely be waived or bought out.


Dany Healtey has requested a trade. Heatley is 3rd in goals since the lockout and is a superlative scoring talent. He also seems to be a bit of a malcontent, having asked out of two cities now (although the first he can certainly be forgiven for). The Senators MUST get a top prospect/young player out of this trade - they have too many veteran players making too much money.

Free Agent Discussion

Money Available: 8.1 million
Holes To Fill: 1

Left Wing

Alex Tanguay (4/18) - Playmaking left wing could help with Senators' shooting woes.
Nikolai Antropov (4/15) - Versatile Russian can play either wing and center and seems to be continually improving.
Mike Comrie (4/10) - C/LW Comrie was re-acquired by the Sens in March in hopes that he would sign a new deal here. Given that the Islanders were the only team who wanted him when he left Ottawa, it seems rather likely that he re-ups with the Senators.
Ruslan Fedotenko (2/4) - Leaves room to upgrade the defense, if management wishes to.


Ottawa is paying for its years of almost-success by paying players like Chris Phillips and Mike Fisher a hefty sum to do less than they should. Its top line also makes almost $20 million dollars, which leaves only $36 million for the remaining 20 players. Ottawa should look into dealing Dany Heatley for an excellent prospect and 2nd line LW, then sign another LW; they may lose out on that deal overall, but they may leave themselves more balanced to make more trades down the road.


Ottawa should contend for the playoffs this season - whether they make it depends on Leclaire's health and what happens with Heatley. Down the road, the Senators have a lot of guys signed for a lot of years and not much of a farm system; they are likely in that heap with the Rangers and Buffalo of Eastern Conference squads who are around 60% to make the playoffs in a given year.

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