Senators Need to Go Big At the Deadline

Over the last several seasons the Ottawa Senators have been very active at the trade deadline. Over the years, players such as Greg De Vries, Bryan Smolinski, Tyler Arnason, Mike Comrie, Oleg Saprykhin among others were acquired as the team pushed towards a championship.

This season will be no different as the Sens will need to do something to shore up their team as they try to get back to the Cup Finals. However this time, instead of adding some support players, the team is going to need to do something big to really shake things up and change the balance of power in the East.

Yes, the team is in first, but they are now hanging on to that lead just barely with a 1 point advantage over the Montreal Canadiens. Yes the team is struggling with injuries with both captain Daniel Alfredsson and winger Dany Heatley out of the lineup. Indeed those are huge holes to fill but even with them, the lineup still needs help.

This is relatively the same squad that went to the finals and lost badly to the Anaheim Ducks. The road to get back will be difficult with several very competitive teams in the east. Therefore, a big shakeup is probably in order for this team.

Goaltending has plagued the Sens all season. Going in, the team felt they had an emerging number 1 in Ray Emery. Instead, they ended up with a player who does nothing but cause controversy off the ice. He has been a real distraction this season and one wonders if he has the mental stability to take the Sens through 4 playoff rounds. His arrogance has gotten in the way of being a good team player and if the Sens could ever find a new number 1, they would jump on it.

The problem is that the number 1 wont be Martin Gerber. Gerber is simply to fragile and unreliable to carry the full load. He has put up very good numbers, but can he deliver a big game performance? Or will he be the next Patrick Lalime for Ottawa?

The goalie market is bone dry right now. Finding an upgrade will be very difficult for the Sens and they will probably need to stick with what they have now. This could be the achillies heel that leads to their downfall.
There are a couple of options they could explore:
  • Nikolai Khabibulin (6.75 million cap hit through next season) – At that price tag, the cost could be a bit too much for the Sens to swallow. But here is a goalie who has won a cup and with a good team in front of him could actually have something to add. He’s the type of big game goalie that could put over the Sens, but does he have anything lefft in the tank?
  • Dwayne Roloson (3.6 million cap hit through next season) – Another goalie with some cup final experience, Roloson was strong just 2 years ago helping Edmonton to the finals and could be the saavy, reliable veteran the Sens need between the pipes. Roloson wont wilt under pressure like Gerber, nor will he be an off ice distraction. But again, age is an issue as one wonders how much Roloson can contribute over a grinding 2 month period.
If they find someone, great. Otherwise, what you see is what you get in Ottawa and for many, what they see, they don’t like.

Defensively the Sens have struggled. The team is 23rd in terms of goals against and while part of it is attributed to their shaky goaltending, the defence as a whole has been inconsistent. It all starts with Wade Redden. I am not sure what it is, be it a lack of confidence, the coaching change or simply jealousy from seeing almost all of the other core players on the team get contract extensions except himself. He has struggled and pretty much the writing is on the wall that he wont be back. But, if Ottawa is going to make a push, they need a top pair guy and Redden is it.

But a couple of questions arise from this. Could they possibly move Redden and still find a way to upgrade the team? It will be very intriguing to see what GM Bryan Murray chooses to do. He may not be too keen on losing Redden for nothing in the summer but those 25 plus minutes will be near impossible to replace.

On the other hand, Murray could ship Redden out to improve the team up front (more on that later) and go after:
  • Dan Boyle (UFA at seasons end) – Boyle comes with Stanley Cup experience and a great ability to move the puck and quarterback the powerplay which would be a perfect fit in Ottawa. It could be difficult for the Lightning to re-sign Boyle and the Sens have the kind of young assets they can part with which Tampa would be interested in.
  • Barret Jackman (UFA at seasons end) – Like Tampa, the Blues are probably not going to be too keen on losing one of their better defencemen for nothing in the summer. Jackman would add plenty of sandpaper and grit and a guy who could really support Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov in shutting down opposing team’s top players. He would definitely make the Sens much harder to run over like Anaheim did in the cup finals. Jackman is the type of player all championship teams could use.
  • Jani Pitkanen (RFA at seasons end) – With Pitkanen due for a likely large pay increase, that may turn off his parent team, the Edmonton Oilers, and open him up for trade. He, like Boyle has a high skill level and would fit in with the Sens. And being a RFA, at least the Sens would be able to keep his rights during the summer. Acquiring him could allow the Sens to easily move Redden if a deal for him came to fruition.
Indeed the Sens have some other options to improve their depth on D. There are going to be several blueliners available such as Nick Boynton, Bryce Salvador, Jaroslav Modry, Brad Stuart, Marek Malik, Mattias Norstrom, among others who could provide some depth, but if the Sens want to go big, they have choices.

As mentioned earlier, the Sens do have needs up front as well and it would do them some good to maybe do something significant to really shake things up.

The Sens have a wonderful top line with the trio of Spezza-Alfredsson-Heatley being a dominant force on offence. They’ve scored over 40 percent of the team’s goals despite having both Alfredsson and Heatley miss time with injury.

But the team needs to give their big guns more support. If the big line is shut down like they were in the finals last year, there is no one else on the team who could pick up the slack. Sure Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette are fine players, but they wont scare anyone. In fact they are the only other players with double digit goal totals. The Sens need another impact forward to lead a 2nd unit to keep opponents honest.

The options are out there, it all depends on whether the team is willing to go after these players.
  • Peter Forsberg (UFA) – He will only cost a team money. As a free agent he is the most attractive player out there because no assets need to be given up to acquire him. He could anchor a 2nd unit and really make teams pay for just focusing on the top line. He is a playoff warrior and a proven winner which is something the Sens lack. while a long season grind is something Forsberg cannot handle anymore, a couple of months of good playoff hockey
    is something Forsberg can provide in spades
  • Patrick Marleau ($6.3 million cap hit for 2 more seasons) – The Sharks captain has struggled big time this year and is in need of a change in scenery. The best thing for Marleau is to take a back seat in terms of leadership and simply be asked to provide offence. He can do that in Ottawa.
  • Tuomo Ruutu (RFA at seasons end) – Ruutu is a player who also needs a change in scenery. He is highly skilled which would mesh well with the Sens team but he adds a willingness to battle physically which could be an asset come playoff time. You see that quite a bit around the league where a player leaves the team that drafts them and turns into a star. Ruutu could be that in an environment like Ottawa’s.
  • Alexander Frolov (2.9 million cap hit for 2 more seasons) – While it may be a bit of a stretch for the Kings to part with a young player, the Sens have young assets to give in return. Plus, with Frolov due to be paid 7.5 million in actual salary the next couple of seasons, there could be some interest to shave off actual dollars off their budget. He isnt the proven playoff guy everyone believes the Sens need, but he is a highly skilled player who will make others around him better. And he doesnt have to do it all. Thats what Alfredsson’s for.
Whatever the Sens decide to do, it has to be significant and have a big impact. I dont think money will be a problem with owner Eugene Melnyk and the Sens have smart management to weed through all the cap jargon.

While players like Comrie and Smolinski are nice players, in the big picture they didnt make all that much difference. The Sens right now are basically the same team that lost to Anaheim last season. They need a big improvement to not only get through the trecherous East but also have enough ammo to take that next big step which would be a championship.

25 Responses to Senators Need to Go Big At the Deadline

  1. Senatorsfan78 says:

    If Bryan Murray wants go big on the forward front he should go out and get Erik Cole that is player that Bryan Murray should be eyeing.

  2. Armstrong67 says:

    It bothered me last year before the series with Anahiem, when Alfie was being interviewed about Canadian hockey fans supporting the Sen's cup drive.  Alfie came out and said "even Leaf fans will follow us".

    Sorry but most Leaf fans will not support the rival Sen's at any point but I do feel bad for Sen's fans who have been so close yet so far.

    Alfie played to win last year and deserved to, but don't let anything about this years crappy leafs effect your head in any way.  And forget about all the playoff ass kickings taken at the hands of the Leafs.

    Ottawa: Dan Boyle, Richards
    Tampa: Emery, Redden, 1nd rounder

    Ottawa: Roloson
    Edmonton: Corvo

    Islanders: Vermette
    Ottawa: Witt

    Tougher D with the scoring still intact! 

  3. mtlman2005 says:

    Ottawa: Dan Boyle, Richards
    Tampa: Emery, Redden, 1nd rounder

    U got to be kidding right? And how on earth would they fit Richards under the cap?

  4. senators101 says:

    Not a bad article from a non-sens fan, so I commend you on that.  Although our goaltending seems to be the largest issue, it's not.  I obviously cannot speak for all sens fans, but i'm happy with the tandem we have now.  Our TEAM defense, on the other hand, have to stop playing like they are in pee wee hockey.  I'm glad they've gone through this, they need adversity.  It was a walk in the park for the first third of the season, and I'd much rather go in at 4th than first.

    Defense, on the other hand, BLOWS.  Bye Bye Luke Richardson, Hello adam foote (if colombus become sellers).  The Blue Jackets had scouts at a couple sens road games a few weeks ago and murray came out and said he thought he had a couple deals done.. either that was for foote or federov.   You could put Foote with anyone and that line would be solidified.  Defense would be:
    Redden Mesz
    Phill Volch (untouched)
    Foote Corvo. 
    I wouldn't mind Foote playing with redd or mesz either.

    As for offense, I'm extremely glad we  weren't kicked off forsberg's list lol.  If we could get him, we'd have two solid lines.

    If we could get forsberg, that'd be great.  But, in addition, I would like to see Murray trade some prospects (zubov, hennessey, eaves, etc) for some size up front.  I think the perfect person right now is Trent Hunter.  That would provide grittyness on all three lines.  Spezza and Heatley need a human wrecking ball to park his ass in the front of the net and wreak havoc.

  5. Kramer says:

    My sources tell me that Ottawa wants to get a player in the next few weeks.  I'll let everyone know when I find out more information.

  6. Armstrong67 says:

    I thought of that and obviosly some other changes need to be made to for this to happen.  I am focussed  more on getting troublemaker Emery and unsigned Redden out of Ottawa before the 26th.  Why have potential off ice issues effect the playoffs?  Maybe there is a more cap friendly way of doing this!

  7. NYI365-318J1 says:

    there is no way u will get brenden witt, but if your looking for a big d-man then think about andy sutton

    to ottawa: andy sutton, miro satan, josef vasicek

    to NYI: ? wade redden and a pick ? or a scorer? but i dont know who?

    but definitly not witt

  8. NYI365-318J1 says:

    sorry but you will not get hunter. he is one of my best players, and he likes playing on loud island.
    you should think about eric cole, he has most of the same qualitys. i would like to see garth snow trade berrard and hilbert for cole, and i know the canes are looking for a pp qb and a pk guy. he would fit in good under ted nolan.

    but thanks for complementing hunter

    LET’S GO ISLANDERS ! ! !!!

    rangers SUCK!!!

  9. senators101 says:

    We couldn't afford Erik Cole, Foppa, Foote.  hunter's cheap and he is in his last year of his contract.  If he doesn't get re-signed by deadline, you don't think he's available? out of curiosity.

  10. NYI365-318J1 says:

    if ottawa gets a better goaltender and/or another big name foward (maybe forsberg) then they will be complete

  11. Rysto says:

    Redden's going nowhere.  He's used his NTC clause to nix trades to the Oilers and Sharks already.

    No rental player is going to put Ottawa over the top.  Rental players are pretty much always a mistake: they cost too much and produce too little.  Last year, Ottawa and Anaheim made no deadline moves of any significance and ended up in the Finals.

    The year before that, Carolina paid big for Doug Weight only to see him become a very expensive third-line centre who saw bit time on the second power play unit.

  12. pezzz says:

    The Sens need 3 things to have a chance for the cup this year.

    1rst thing : a guy to fit somewhere at the right of Spezza/Heatley or on the second line with Fisher

    2nd thing : a complete d-man who'll support Philips/Volchenkov on the PK and Redden/Corvo on the PP. We must keep Redden if we want to win the cup….the key is adding depth without giving away our good players (maybe Corvo but not Redden).

    3rd thing : a goalie who as proven himself in the playoffs, and this goalie, unfortunately, is not Gerber, nor Emery, except if one of them is doing absolutely terrific by the trade deadline.

    So, for the forward and the d-man, we're looking for someone who's UFA at the end of the season, or has 1 year left on his contract at an average price. Here's a few options : Rob Blake, Brad Sutart, Ladislav Nagy, Michael Cammalleri (yeah I know, all from LA.) My preferences go to Blake and Cammalleri.

    Here, to make this trade happen, we must send a little bit of salary back to LA, and indeed a young player and a pick. but we want to keep our depth intact here. so we must keep Vermette, and send someone from Binghampton instead. how about this :

    To Ottawa : Blake, Cammalleri, JS Aubin
    to LA : Emery, Josh Hennessy, Corvo, 2nd pick 08, 3rd pick 09

    After this, we must find a goalie to lead us to the cup. There's only a few possibilities : Khabibulin, Roloson, Lalime, Kolzig. Let's forget Roloson and Kolzig, as they're injury prone and too old. so we're left with Khabibulin or Lalime. I'd take Khabibulin, because he won the cup in Tampa with a mid d-core in front of him (Kubina, Sydor, Clymer, Boyle (he wasn't as good as now), Lukowich, etc.). so let's pull this :

    To ottawa : Khabibulin, 2nd round pick 08
    to Chicago : Gerber, 3rd round pick 08

    This leaves us with this line-up for the playoffs :

    Heatley – Spezza – Cammalleri
    Robitaille – Fisher – Alfredsson
    Vermette – Kelly – Neil
    Donovan – Mcammond – Eaves         McGrattan

    Phillips – Volchenkov
    Redden – Blake
    Mezjaros – Schubert/Richardson             


    Then, in the off-season, let Vermette sign an offer sheet, and grab the picks for the draft. This way, we got rid of big salaries and cancers (Corvo, Gerber, Emery), we got great assets without giving too much high picks, and we got our first 2 lines settled for next year!   

  13. papichulo71 says:

    I think given Murray's past the pick up is going to be Federov.

  14. A-Train24 says:

    Redden is a UFA to be with a no trade clause, he will not go to the last place team in the east.  Oh yeah, and your trade is horrible.  Boyle and Redden are UFAs who will command 5+ miilion a year, if the bolts cant sign Boyle they wont sign Redden, so its a wash. It becomes Emery plus 1rst rnd pick (25-30 overall) and Emery for Richards? Please tell me your kidding

  15. Radio says:

    Nevermind that Richardson is playing stronger D than Foote right now.

  16. Radio says:

    As I said in another thread:

    More than a trade the Sens Need:


    Emery and Gerber are BOTH starters. The reality is that you have to just arbitrarily pick one and go with him.

    Gerber (and the whole team) was DOING GREAT (17 straight wins anyone?) until Emery came back was eating into his starts.

    This does NOT mean that Emery is to blame.

    Emery also plays in the same way, he will play better when he knows he is No.1.

    This Paddock policy is what is ruining the team, not any lack of talent.

    Look at the start of the Senators season, they dominated with the *same team* they have now. What's changed? Ignoring Alfie's injury and the team being able to barely play without him — (cause the breakdown started before that happened anyway) — it was Paddock alternating the goalies, then the team losing confidence that is the problem.

  17. Senatorsfan78 says:

    You are wrong about Erik Cole he will be afordable.

  18. cartino says:

    My concerns here are:
    -Redden has a no-trade clause and has made it quite clear last summer he's not going anywhere til season's end, why would he waive it to go from a playoff team to a non-playoff team.
    -I question whether we could even waive Emery and have someone take him, let alone trade him.
    -I do like Witt alot and would like to get him, trading Vermette? i'd see if you could give up a draft pick or something?
    -I'm all for grabbing Roloson and don't think he'd be hard to get, only catch is you can't pick him up until you get rid of one of our 2 goalies, we cannot take on a 3rd goalie making over 3 million and all under contract next year!

  19. shaloni says:

    The team is different then last year due to their lack luster approach to team defence.  You could have Patrick Roy between the pipes and the SENS would still be 3 points ahead of the Canadians.  Team defence wins games.  You can't expect your goaltender to make up for the mistakes the team makes on a nightly bases.  Defencemen that make 6 million a year should not be throwing the puck up the middle or leaving their men unmarked at the side of the net waiting for the rebound.  I think if the team made a better effort in their defencive end we would be talking about the goalies in Ottawa in a whole new light.

  20. wayne2 says:

    To Edmonton:Emery,Eaves
    To Ottawa:Roloson,Stoll

  21. Hockeyjunkie says:

    None of those trades will happen you meathead.  Jesus.

  22. Hockeyjunkie says:

    Nice article. I agree with most of what is written. Sens do need secondary scoring, another solid D and a real number 1 goalie.  I think the first 2 areas could be improved but not the goalie situation.  Neither Emery or Gerber are really that great and both are getting overpaid.  Gerber is very inconsistent and his confidence is always a cause for concern.  As for Emery, I don't care how bad your goalie situation is, I wouldn't trade for an average goalie, who is overpaid and has an attitude problem.  Definitely not worth the risk.  Even a team like Tampa Bay.  If Emery is in net for them, they will still suck.  Unless the Sens address some issues, they aren't going far in the playoffs.

  23. hockey_lover says:

    While I do agree that the Sens team defense is lackluster, I have to disagree with the part where you said "You can't expect your goaltender to make up for the mistakes the team makes on a nightly bases."

    A goalie can only do so much but I dont think Emery or Gerber are the "big game" type where the big saves at the crucial moments are needed.

    If the Sens had Roy, Brodeur, Luongo, et al, they WOULD be farther ahead in the standings. No doubt about it. Having said that, their team defense is still suspect and wouldnt win the cup anyway.

    They need to a) pick a goalie and stick with him, through thick and thin and b) shore up the defense. I think the guys that are there now can get the job done they just arent. The giveaways, the breakdowns, etc, etc are making them look more terrible than they really are.

  24. mitchamac says:

    i would take gill from the leafs for a pic or prospect

  25. mitchamac says:

    i would take gill from the leafs for a pic or prospect

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